Delirious? 2003 - Review of the Year (
Last modified: 30 Dec 2003

Author: Dave Wood
Date: 30 Dec 2003

Concerts from Australia to Sweden and everywhere in between, television appearances and studio sessions, record deals and baby births... just another twelve months in the life of a band. Dave Wood looks back at Delirious' year in 2003...

Right from the start of 2003 Delirious? were locked away in a recording studio with their minds firmly on one thing: a new album. The first few weeks of the year were spent putting the finishing touches to the early demos of what was to be their sixth studio album. The recording process was to take nearly the whole year, with a shiny new CD appearing on the shelves just in time for Christmas. But in between sessions in the studio, the band had plenty of other events going on.

In January the BBC1 Breakfast news featured a report on Delirious?, looking at their role in Christian music. It concluded that "In America Delirious is a rock band who happen to be Christians; in Britain they remain Christians who play guitars". Yet another nice piece of media recognition for the band.

At the end of January, Delirious? put on a showcase concert in Camden, London, at just one weeks notice. Amongst the crowd of 500 fans that turned up were record execs from mainstream label BMG who were eager to see what Delirious? could do. It was also my first of several days spent with the band this year. Having been invited to join them for the day, I remember arriving in Littlehampton bright and early and travelling to London with the band. The talk in the van on the way was full of hopes for the year and plans for the future. Having only ever seen gigs from a fan's point of view in the past, it was interesting to watch an empty room be transformed into a fully working concert venue and watch things from the band's perspective. Backstage they are five ordinary guys, relaxing in their dressing room. When the call comes for them to go on stage, the band huddle round and say a few short prayers, before marching purposely out to perform their songs. To them it's a job, and also a calling.

February was an emotional month for Martin with the birth of his fourth child, Levi. After initial health concerns the newest member of the Smith family was pronounced fit and healthy.

By March Delirious? had taken a producer on board to help them with their new album. Julian Kindred flew in from Canada to oversee the band's work in the studio. March also saw the start of Delirious' touring duties. Having signed up with the American youth conference 'Acquire The Fire', the band flew state-side to perform at a number of events. The partnership with 'ATF' would see them make several short trips to the USA throughout 2003, with plans for even more events in 2004.

During April and May, Delirious? continued to intersperse recording sessions at home in England with trips across the Atlantic to perform concerts to their American fans. With five North American gigs in April, and the same in May, the band still found time to allow a film crew to follow them around, with the outcome being shown in an ITV television documentary.

In mid-May, I was again invited to spend a day with the band, this time to watch them hard at work in the studio. I arrived expecting to see a modern looking hi-tech recording studio, only to find a converted farm house hidden amongst fields and country lanes in rural West Sussex. Inside the band had set up camp with rooms crammed full of guitars and sound equipment. Hearing the early versions of what was to become the band's new album, I remember being instantly impressed. Sitting in the studio as producer Julian Kindred worked tirelessly to record the 'perfect take' was an incredible experience. Listening to the finished CD seven months later it's easy to forget that every few seconds of music took hours to record in the studio, such is the hunger in Delirious? to do things to the best of their ability. Plus, if you listen carefully to the last 5 seconds of 'Rain Down' you can just about hear my sneeze as I watched Jon recording the bass lines! (Ok, so maybe you can't, but being there in person was a very special moment).

For years d:fans had been demanding a DVD of their favourite band, and at the end of May Delirious? obliged with the release of their fist ever DVD, Archive:d. Comprising of a combination of their early videos plus a handful of visual treats, the DVD was also made available to US fans later in the year.

Not content with having already made a dozen US appearances so far in the year, Delirious? decided to clock up some serious air-miles in June and July with a hectic touring schedule taking in Canada, America, Sweden and Australia in the space of four weeks. The two day-trip to Australia in mid-July saw the band performing at the Hillsong Conference at Sydney's SuperDome. July saw the arrival of yet another baby in the Delirious? family. This time it was Jon's turn to celebrate with the birth of his second child, Xanthia.

With August and September being fairly quiet on the touring schedule (just one US concert in each month), Delirious? settled down to finish off their studio duties. By the end of September the CD had been fully recorded, and New Zealander Sam Gibson had mixed the album. All that was left was for the band to finally announce the title of the album: 'World Service'.

As the clocks hit midnight on 1st October, Delirious? fans around the world were given an early taste of the new album with the worldwide MP3 release of 'Majesty'. Fans flocked in their thousands to download the track, which held the number 1 spot in the MP3 Guitar Rock Charts for over a month.

During October there was also news of a few U2 side-lines for Delirious?, with Martin recording a duet of 'Walk On' with Darlene Zschech and the band covering 'Pride' for a future benefit compilation album. October also turned out to be another busy touring month, with a six-date US tour.

Before October was out, there was time for one more trip across the ocean, this time to perform at an Acquire The Fire event in Hamilton, Canada. A few weeks before they were due to perform there, I received a phone call asking if I'd like to go with them. "To Canada?", I enquired with surprise, "Sure!".

And so it was that I found myself at Heathrow Airport in London, waiting in the departure lounge with the five members of Delirious?, several crew members and six trolley loads of equipment. The Canadian Experience had begun. Stew kindly offered to swap tickets with me, which would change my seat on the plane to the one next to Jon. That would allow the two of us to spend much of the 8 hour flight discussing websites, music, bad movies, and weird old ladies who laugh too loudly on planes. Having made the ticket switch, Stew had a word of warning for me. "I better not find that ticket turning up on ebay" he said. I wouldn't dream of it of course, or would I? (For sale, one used plane ticket bearing the name 'Stewart Smith'. All offers considered).

After a gruelling journey, and a short visit to the awesome Niagara Falls (my personal highlight of the year), it was finally time for the concert. It was my first overseas Delirious? gig and I found it comforting to know that despite travelling 4000 miles, there was an arena full of people who knew every word to the songs. Let me assure you, Delirious? are a hard working band. The trip all the way to Canada for just a 45minute concert is proof enough of that.

November saw another MP3 release, this time 'Rain Down'. It was also a marathon month for travelling, as the band performed five concerts covering four countries in just two weeks as they visited Finland, Norway, Holland and the USA.

The months of studio work finally came to fruition in December as the new album 'World Service' was released around the world. To celebrate, and launch the album in true Delirious? style, the band performed five sell-out concerts in London showcasing tracks from the CD. Arriving for the first of the concerts, I joined the band for a curry along with members of the BMG record label from Germany. Over the meal they discussed the launch of the first Delirious? single in Germany, 'Inside Outside', planned for January 2004.

Usually the Christmas concert in London ends the year for Delirious?, but this year the band decided to see the New Year in with a four-date end of year US tour. In a way it symbolises their year, hard working to the end. Delirious? performed a total of 44 concerts in 2003, 30 of them in North America alone. If you bare in mind that in 2002 they played 76 concerts around the world it becomes clear that a large proportion of this year has been spent working on an album. It's too early to tell how successful 'World Service' will be, but looking back over 2003 it is obvious that Delirious? have had another highly productive year, providing their service to the world.

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