The Mission Bell Tour - Southampton Guildhall, UK (11 Oct 2006)
Last modified: 11 Oct 2006
Venue: Southampton Guildhall, UK
Author: Dave Wood
Date: 11 Oct 2006
It has been 8 years since Delirious? last visited Southampton on one of their tours, but the city clearly hasn't held it against the band. The concert was a sell-out long before the Delirious? tour bus rolled up at the doors of the Southampton Guildhall. The band had chosen to begin their 25-date 'Mission Bell European Tour 2006' on the south coast of England, and the fans that packed the venue were eager to see what was in store.
Tim Hughes and his band opened the show, and you could have been forgiven for thinking he was the main act. The crowd sang every word and by the time he'd left the stage they were well and truly warmed up for the main event. A large black curtain was unrolled from up high, covering the entire stage. Then sirens and a pounding beat could be heard as red lights flashed around the stage. Suddenly spotlights picked out the five members of Delirious? in turn - their outlines showing through the curtain. Stu and Martin begun the opening song, Here I Am Send Me, and a few minutes later as the drums kicked in, the curtain fell to the ground to reveal the band and a huge cheer went up from the crowd.
Delirious? were dressed in matching white suits, each specifically tailored to give a unique outfit to each band member. Stew's suit had only one sleeve, Martin had a red cross on his thigh, Stu had extra flares, Tim had multiple zips, and Jon... well, more on him in a minute.
Rain Down was the second song and the crowd were starting to get into the swing of things as lyrics soaked by rain shone on the video screen. Red and yellow lights brought with them Fires Burn, as flames engulfed the video screen. Next up was Solid Rock, with it's big bold words against a green background appearing on the big screen. Reaching for a bright red megaphone, Martin belted out the Solid Rock Rap like a gospel preacher gone crazy.
"We can't go on much further without seeing Jon's bat wings" announced Martin. Jon stretched out his arms to reveal bright red wings sown into the sleeves of his suit jacket. They hung down as he reached up the neck of his guitar. From behind a piano at the back of the stage, Tim's could be heard to play Now Is The Time, as the stage was bathed in pink light. Miniature video cameras positioned alongside each band member showed the crowd close ups of drums, guitars, piano and singing on the big screen, interspersed with lyrics being displayed. Many of the visuals used through out the concert followed a very simple theme, displaying the words in an unobtrusive but unique way. Mid way through the song Martin picked up a spotlight and shone it around the crowd, before aiming it squarely at Jon's bass.
Our God Reigns saw Jon turn to reach for his synthesiser. The lyrics on screen this time displayed as if produced by a typewriter, with a glitter ball appearing on screen for the chorus. And what a chorus it was. The crowd joined in with full force, bringing a stunning moment with a huge sound. Tim once again excelled at the piano, and as the band launched into a stunning instrumental ending, Stu G's guitar playing finesse was unleashed without reserve.
A brief rendition of What A Friend I've Found came next. "You look good in your suit tonight Stu G" beamed Martin. "I must return the compliment" retorted Stu. With Tim gently tinkering at the piano, Martin reached for his bible. "The guy died 2000 years ago and his book is still a best seller" said Martin. After reading out a passage, Martin began to sing Miracle Maker. As he sang "You are Holy", the screen filled with that single word "Holy", being replaced every few seconds with equivalent words in every imaginable language - symbolising the vastness of the Miracle Maker Himself, and the global nature of this humble band. The crowd were stunned to near silence, and a shiver seemed to sweep across the entire audience at the power of the words.
History Maker has been around for a while, but the video that accompanied it on this occasion breathed new life into a song that never fails to excite the fans. As the band played, mock Newspaper frontpages appeared on the screen, featuring the song's lyrics as headlines, and photos of individual fans as front page history makers. Paint The Town Red was next and it too featured a brilliantly produced video, displaying the lyrics on road signs, bus shelters and advertising boards in a busy city bustling with traffic. Bright red silhouettes of the band were painted on top of the scenes.
What came next can only be described as the band's own comedy routine or cabaret act. Five small keyboards were positioned on stage, one for each of the band. Martin hit a button and a simple backing track begun. Jon joined in with some bass notes from his keyboard, before Stu started a repeating high end sequence of notes. Tim picked up the main tune and before anyone knew it, the band's most requested track Happy Song was ringing out like you've never heard it before. A clear mickey take at themselves, and possibly one of the most cringeworthy moments in the history of Delirious?, but the crowd loved it. Clapping in time and singing in fine voice they cheered on every last squeak from those five keyboards. A seamless (if you can describe it that way) transition into Revival Town followed, before Stew walked back to his drum kit and belted out a stunning solo to launch the band into a superb recall to the setlist for Metamoprhis. Absent since the band's Mezzamorphis era in the late 90's, the song sounded better than ever as Martin sung the chorus "Can I be somebody?" to a hushed and transfixed crowd.
The echoing guitar sound of Take Off My Shoes came next, with drums pounding and reverberating across the stage. Again the crowd watched in awe as an absolutely breathtaking song saw a sea of up-stretched arms lifted high. As Martin sang "hold me today, as I carry your cross", he heaved his microphone stand onto his shoulder as if carrying the cross. The atmosphere of worship continued into Majesty as the crowd again found their voice and Martin stepped back to let them sing.
A reprise of Paint The Town Red brought the set to an end, as the band applauded the packed crowd and left the stage. After a short pause they returned and performed yet another stunning track, All This Time. As he sung the words "I've been a lover with just one", Martin poignantly tapped his wedding ring, endorsing the virtues of marriage. Towards the end of the song Stu G again erupted into guitar meltdown as he played an electrifying solo. The night ended with Stronger, and as the words say, Delirious? are getting stronger everyday. This was a hugely impressive opening night for the band and the crowd clearly appreciated every minute. Incredible and memorable.