Jumping Hot Club
Is it possible to subjectively review a live show of a band that you already consider to be rather excellent? Possibly not, but here goes.
BBC6 Music’s Gideon Coe had been my gateway into this particular drug, he had championed The Delines 2019 album ‘The Imperial‘ which I had grown to love deeply and had proceeded to gorge myself on, almost to the point of overdose.
So, when I got wind of new material, again via Gideon Coe – anticipation bit deep.
But hang fire I thought, perhaps a bit of delayed gratification might be called for.
The Delines, Jumpin Hot Club gig at Gosforth Civic Theatre had been rescheduled a couple of times and I had sworn to stay clean of the new stuff until I had the pleasure of hearing it live and fresh in order to savour that first hit, so to speak. I must confess to a lapse here and there when I had listened to the odd track on the radio but for the most part I was coming to 2022’s ‘The Sea Drift’ with fresh ears.
The Delines take to the stage, and go straight into ‘Ain’t no Getaway’ – new to me, but familiar, like an old friend you haven’t seen for a while.
‘It’s six o’clock in the morning; sun’s coming through the shades‘ Amy Boone sings (sighs?), as she covers her eyes (more of which later).
The sound of a band easing their way into the set.
I’m somewhat surprised by the choice of the following three songs.
I had anticipated hearing, more or less the whole of The Sea Drift, but I’m soon into my comfort zone – Eddie and Polly, He Don’t Burn For Me and Roll Back My Life one after the other; and all lifted from The Imperial. I’m not the only one singing along.
Willy Vlautin’s guitar is sounding bright and Cory Gray’s trumpet is the aural equivalent of extra thick double cream, the rhythm section understated but vital, but of course it’s Amy’s distinctive vocal that draws you in.
You feel she lives inside these songs, inhabits them, her voice the perfect vehicle for the stories penned by her sidekick Willy V. I wonder to myself how it’s possible to pour so much emotion into a performance, night after night without feeling absolutely drained.
The lights are clearly bothering Amy and a number of times she asks politely for them to be adjusted, ‘I feel like I’m being interrogated’ she says – it takes a while and it’s not only a distraction for her but by extension her audience. Finally, they get it sorted, as [ironically] the band play ‘I Got my Shadows‘ from their debut album Colfax. Then a brand new song, not yet recorded called ‘Left Hook Like Frazier‘. Here then, maybe a hint of things to come, it’s more upbeat, almost danceable, almost Motown. Reminded me a bit of Springsteen’s ‘Lets Be Friends.‘
Crowd pleaser ‘The Imperial’ is followed by only the second track taken from The Sea Drift, ‘Surfers in Paradise‘ and for me the stand out tune of the evening.
It’s sparse, and atmospheric and the music just swirls around the auditorium – Amy pours everything into the song and the crowd respond with their most sustained applause of the evening.
Then it’s into the title track from Colfax, followed by an instrumental,’Daybreak’, designed I guess, to allow Amy some time to leave the stage and draw breath.
I understand; those songs speak of hard lives, it’s difficult subject matter – it’s emotional and you have the feeling she’s tired, just like the characters that inhabit The Delines songs
Then from the final seven tunes (4 of which constitute their encore) 4 are lifted from The Sea Drift; Little Earl, Drowning in Plain Sight, Hold Me Slow and Saved from the Sea. To close they play Oil Rigs at Night from Colfax and Lets Be Us Again from The Imperial.
And then we are off into the Newcastle night having been transported to the ‘other’ USA.
The USA of Guthrie, Bukowski and Steinbeck ……and Vlautin. Some of us linger, buying albums and what-not.
Willy and Cory do the meet and greet duties but there’s no Amy Boone.
I’m not surprised, she must be wrung out. I feel for her, like I feel for the lost souls she sings of.
‘Retro Country Soul’ is how The Delines describe themselves and who am I to argue.
I would add something though, it may be retro sounding but it’s high quality stuff.
Music for people who love music.
Consume with pleasure, listen and weep.
Review courtesy William Graham.