The Delirious? Canadian Experience (Delirious.org.uk)
Last modified: 27 Oct 2003
Author: Dave Wood
Date: 27 Oct 2003
Littlehampton, 8am, Thursday morning, and the start of a very long journey. Just a couple of weeks previously I had received a phone call inviting me to join Delirious? on a trip to Canada, where they would be performing a single concert for the 'Acquire the Fire' youth event before flying back home again. The very thought of travelling all the way to Canada for just one gig seemed slightly crazy to me, but I wasn't about to turn down an opportunity like this. So there I was, picking up Jon the bassist in Littlehampton and driving to London's Heathrow airport to meet up with the rest of the band, and their crew.
By 10:30am we were all gathered at the airport, and checking in ready for our flight. Going on a flight with Delirious? is something of a major undertaking. The five band members, Martin, Stu G, Stew, Jon and Tim are joined by crew members Damo (the Roadie and guitar technician), Colin (the front of house monitors engineer), Neil (lighting director) and Paul (merchandise manager). Then there is the small matter of luggage. More than 20 flight cases, containing guitars and equipment, have to be checked in and taken through customs. Slightly bemused airport staff enquire about the mountain of cases, and seem somewhat impressed by the idea of a 'band' passing through their airport.
Finally we're all on the plane and ready for the 8 hour flight to Chicago. Book, magazines, in-flight movies and laptop computers help to pass the time. Apparently somebody has worked out that a 'band' is on board the plane, and the old lady in the seat next to me whispers in my ear asking who they are. On hearing that they're called Delirious?, she says to me "Should I have heard of them?". Uncertain of how to reply, I pretend I'm engrossed in the film and she goes back to her book. With an aeroplane meal in our stomachs, we eventually land at Chicago, and make our way through immigration and customs, who suspiciously eye the multiple trolley loads of equipment, and across the terminal to find our next plane which will take us over the border into Canada's Toronto airport.
One shorter flight later, a frisking by Canadian customs officials, and an hour-long drive, and we arrive at our final destination, a hotel in the city of Hamilton. It's now about 2:30am British time, more than 18 hours since we left the band's home town of Littlehampton, but still only 9:30pm local time. A spot of dinner and then it's into our hotel rooms, where the band hold a meeting to decide on the cover for their new album. After much debate, they all finally agree on one piece of artwork, and finally it's time for a much needed sleep. The next morning Tim and I take a drive to Niagara Falls and return a little wet but amazed by the power and ferociousness of the waterfalls. A truly stunning sight. Back at the hotel it's mid-day and the band are driven to Toronto to make a surprise guest appearance at the Worship Together conference in Queensway Cathedral. Martin and Stu G go on stage to perform an acoustic rendition of their new song 'Majesty', whilst the video screen behind them plays the trailer from the new movie 'Passion' detailing Jesus' life. The graphic nature of the film, as it depicts the death of Jesus, causes a collective intake of breath from everyone watching. The song is a perfect soundtrack, and a feeling of emotion floods from the stage and across the audience.
With their brief appearance over, we all get back into the van and are driven back to Hamilton and straight to the venue where it's time for the band's sound check. As the band warm up their instruments, I look around the Copps Coliseum venue, an indoor arena home to the local Ice Hockey team. The tiered seating will be full of thousands of fans tonight, but at the moment it is empty and eerie as the band run through a few practice songs. Eventually the sound levels are set, Delirious? are happy, and the sound check is pronounced over. Back in the dressing room dinner is served, our Canadian hosts showing they know how to look after their guests. There's still several hours to go before show time, so we head back to the hotel to relax and wait for the venue to fill up. By the time we get back to the dressing room at about 8.30pm, the event is in full flow. A couple of guys turn up to interview Delirious? and finally its time for the band to head to the stage. With only 45 minutes in which to entertain the enthusiastic fans, Delirious? launch into a high-energy action packed set.
First up it's History Maker, and the crowd surge forward as the stewards at the front struggle to keep control. Strobe lighting and thumping guitars announce the start of My Glorious, before the old favourite Did You Feel The Mountains is received even more warmly. The video screen joins in for Sanctify as Delirious? slow things down and bring a hushed silence across the arena. A ramp stretching from the stage out into the middle of the crowd is put to good use for Lord You Have My Heart, as Tim sits down to play the Rhodes piano which has been set up at the end of the ramp. Martin joins him, and the crowd take the opportunity to join in. Announcing that it was time for a song from the new album, Martin introduces the crowd to the stunningly power Majesty. Deeper follows next, no concert would be complete without it and the crowd again go wild. Another new song, Rain Down, is next, and within a few minutes the fans have picked up the lyrics and taken over from Martin with their own singing. Finishing the show of with a proverbial bang, Delirious? throw themselves into I'm Not Ashamed, and once more the crowd show their appreciation with cheers and applause.
As people flood out of the arena and onto the streets, the band return to their dressing room having accomplished what they came for. 4000 miles is a very long way to come for 45 minutes on stage, but nobody seems to complain. The fans have gone home happy, and with another long day of travelling coming up, we return to the hotel. The next morning we're in the hotel lobby by 4:30am ready for the drive to the airport. Retracing our steps to Toronto, Chicago and then the long flight back to London, we again pass the time with movies and sleep. As the twinkling lights of the UK become visible from the aeroplane windows, the journey comes to an end. Back on the ground in London, I say my goodbyes to the band and head home. Through out the trip the band have been cheerful, friendly and in great spirits. I have no idea how they manage to retain those feelings after hundreds of concerts around the world over the past few years. The amount of air miles they travel must be enough to travel to the outer regions of the solar system several times over. Delirious? are a truly remarkable band.