Delays - Oxford Zodiac

I can guarantee that if you mention going to a Delays gig to anyone, they will feel quite chuffed when they inventively come up with a wisecrack along the lines of “ooh I hope they’re not going to be delayed!” To which you either smile politely…or you hit them. In this case however the four Southampton lads ironically did come onstage later than expected. This was much to the dismay of the impatiently waiting crowd who filled the more-intimate-than-your-Nan’s-lounge venue of Oxford Zodiac to the brim.

Courtesy of Scarlet Soho’s support, the atmosphere circulating the room was more energised than a four-pack of Lucazade. Their dirty funk beats and retro synths set the venue alight, with maddened dancing ripping up the (slightly sticky) floor. Even though their slot was a meagre half an hour, their powerful 80s pop beats definitely left an electric impression. Jaunty New Rave movements were also supplied in the form of Jarvis Cocker’s long lost brother, vocalist Jim Knights. The main foot stomper of their set arrived via ‘Cyclone,’ occupying an 80s rhythm with a futuristic naughties twist. But don’t get it confused with Athlete’s ‘Hurricane’; it was anything but boring. They closed with ‘Speak Your Mind,’ which was yet another retro rhythmic synthesised bit of stuff. Then after swigging some more beer, Jim said his goodbyes and reassured the gig-goers that he’d “see you over there for a kiss”; needless to say I didn’t take him up on his offer.

After waiting eagerly for an extra half an hour, the crowd were crying out to hear the Delays fresh salty sea sounds bounce off the newly painted Carling walls. When the Gilbert brothers, along with their bassist Colin, and drummer Rowley eventually strutted onstage, schoolgirl screams were echoed around Zodiac. We all knew then that the eagle had well and truly landed. The lads set themselves off with a crowd-pumping power pop track ‘Long Time Coming,’ a thumping shoreline anthem that made people move like it was Christmas. This response sent Greg twirling around the stage like some rock and roll ballet dancer high on audience amphetamines. From this very moment I knew they were understated and underrated, but not to be underestimated.

Later on they had a self-confessed “festival moment” and moved on to ‘Hideaway,’ a poptastic body mover and crowd pleaser, which, after following a mellower more (as the kids would say) ‘meh’ song, it got the fans jumping again. After noticing their previous trough in mood, Delays wanted the fans to get re-enrolled on their addictive melodic tunes by clapping their hands and stamping their feet. “We’re cheesy b******s” Greg naughtily smirked.

They then launched into their up and coming single ‘Hurray.’ Needless to say it’s another synthesised pop delight, which begs the question whether they need to explore other areas of their niche. It’s a good seaside sound to have, but a few crowd members did look a tad bored. For me, the highlight of the song was when the line of bulbs at the back started flashing.

This lull however was made insignificant when Delays launched with much gusto into their defining song ‘Love Made Visible.’ It’s so fresh you can even hear the sea at the beginning, making your body move in places you never realised it could. A rapturous “YES!” answered Greg’s question of “are you having a good time?” Well it would be rude to say no. When drum dilemmas followed, Greg saved the day and made everyone go all goose pimply when he spontaneously soloed ‘Hey Girl’ to fill the time. It’s at this moment you realise not a lot will stand in their way.

When ‘Nearer Than Heaven’ got aired, the crowd choired the chorus, sounding like a worship not to God, but to Greg. Granted, his name doesn’t have the same ring to it, but nevertheless the joyful little fellow performed a mid-air quarter splits to celebrate his Divine moment. When the intro to by far the best song of the night, ‘Lost in a Melody’ started playing, it’s fair enough to say the audience did what Aaron told them to; they moved their a**** off. It’s a pulsating rock pop anthem that sent people into a heart throbbing, head nodding frenzy.

The foursome closed with the rock roaring ‘Valentine.’ It was clear to see it was many of the audience’s favourite song and knowing that, Delays left it until last – the little teasers. Gilbert and Co. definitely came into their own and knew how to work the crowd, everyone and I mean everyone were off their feet mesmerised by the lads’ abilities. Before walking offstage Greg cheekily grinned, “no doubt you’ll be seeing a lot of us this year.” Implying 2008 is not the year of the Rat, but the year of the Delays.

Naturally the devoted fans pleaded for more, lifting the roof from its steel supports with their repetitive chants. And did they return and deliver? By golly Miss Molly they did! Although a slower beat song, ‘Panic Attacks’ was the opener for the encore. A few audience members seemed disappointed at their choice, expecting a more up-tempo number. This time Aaron took the vocals and sang them from earth, then Greg’s ghost-like voice sent them back up to heaven again.

‘You and Me’ was the last song of the night. Bringing back everyone’s smiles, the modern melodic hymn sent the crowd into a trance. Everyone was doing their own movements and going where the Delays took them, generally away from the grudge of England and into Utopia. Their sound is difficult to categorise, but that in itself is what defines them. I can only describe it by conjuring up images of you listening to them on a beach whilst eating a refresher and watching the waves lap against the shore. Add to that thumping drumbeats and angel-like vocals, only then can you get close to what they sound like.

One thing however is certain; if you’ve not heard of the Delays by now, then you will have by the time this year is out.

Last updated: 19/04/2018 00:07:25

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