Delphic – Manchester International Festival, Manchester 20/07/13

The annual Manchester International Festival is renowned for bringing premieres and special events from all corners of the arts world to the city and for 3 nights local boys Delphic entered into the true spirit of the festival by re-arranging their 2nd album Collections with a world orchestra to create Our Worldly Collections or as guitarist Matt Cocksedge put it, a show ‘written in Manchester, played by the world

Held in a large marque erected outside the imposing town hall on Albert Square, the dark space and peaceful background music that greeted the audience was more akin to a gallery than a gig venue, this however helped to create a separation from a regular Delphic gig, which was important in allowing you to appreciate the performance as a standalone entity rather than comparing it to previous Delphic shows.

A myriad of wonderfully bizarre instruments had been gathered together on stage including an amazing Indonesian Gamelan complete with golden dragon, African Kora, Oriental Guzheng, and Indian Harmonium alongside more recognisable double bass, violin and French horn. A hushed and intrigued atmosphere greeted the cast as they took their places, followed by the Delphic trio and we got underway with Tears Before Bedtime acting as a short but serene prelude to ease us in before Of The Young burst into life with a heavy tribal percussion beat and great vocal harmonies, those two qualities being the stand out elements which underpinned the whole performance.

The Gamlan was introduced for Freedom Found to provide some glorious rhythmic chiming sounds which lifts the track completely from the original version. The Sun Also Rises was a real epic slow builder that used the strings and horns beautifully to create an uplifting crescendo, the vocals of James Cook complemented perfectly by the female vocalist (apologies but I don’t know the name). Atlas is my standout track from the Collections album and the reworked version stayed fairly true to the original, with guitar still the dominant sound backed up by Bhangra drums and double bass.

The songs flowed into each other and the crowd take the music in rather than going crazy, appreciating the sounds being created in front of them, a far cry from the club-night feel of a regular Delphic gig, but just as captivating. The steel drums rang out on Don’t Let The Dreamers Take You Away creating a calypso vibe that was accompanied by oriental strings that sounds bizarre but somehow sounded just right. Baiya is the other standout track from the album and sounded just as good tonight, the strings sounded even better played live and the break beat percussion was brought to the fore.

The performance summed up what the MIF is all about, bringing something different to a willing open audience. I’m sure there were a few who wanted to hear more popular Delphic songs or people who thought it was just too much, but for me it was a triumph of innovation and imagination that exposed me to sounds I would never have come across before.

A special mention has to go out to David Coyle (an old university friend of the band) from the Royal Northern College of Music who composed the new arrangements and led the orchestra brilliantly.

Set List:
Tears Before Bedtime
Of The Young
Freedom Found
The Sun Also Rises
Exotic
Atlas
Memeo
Don’t Let The Dreamers Take You Away
Baiya
Changes

Related:

Album Review: Delphic – Collections

Delphic – Gorilla, Manchester 27/10/12

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