Live Review

Roskilde 2010: Delphic

Simply brilliant.

Delphic has played a grand total of three gigs in America. Ever. So when the band were announced as a last-minute addition to the light-on-the-electropop Roskilde line-up, I couldn’t have been more ecstatic. I’m sure the band were perturbed as I was with their placement at Pavilion, the smallest of the five stages at Roskilde, especially having played two sets to much larger crowds the weekend before at Glasto. But no one ever said being in a band was always easy, and it looks like Delphic has their work cut out for them at Roskilde.

All attempts to encourage complete strangers I run into that morning that this is the set to catch on Friday afternoon don’t appear to work, as none of them seem to know what I’m talking about. I’d seen the stage setup for Wild Beasts late Thursday night but in daylight I am pleased to see there is not a monumental distance between the Pavilion stage and audience compared to the other Roskilde stages. This I surmise will be the key to Delphic’s success this afternoon.

Even before the trio played a note, the stage should have been called ‘Synth City’ with the number of electronic setups at the ready for the band. Unlike some other current synthpop acts, Delphic doesn’t employ gimmicks like massive hair or dad dancing to detract from what’s most important: the music. The only thing on ‘Acolyte’ that borders on gimmickry are the quick-fire vocals that begin ‘Doubt’, keyboardist Rick Boardman admitting to me before the show that those sounds were the direct result of him playing around with vowel sounds and then feeding them into a synth and drum pads. So that’s where those sounds come from.

The more I hear about their dedication to the music-making process (so much that they often lose precious sleep when one of them wakes the others at 3 in the morning with a new idea that must be recorded then and there), the less I am surprised with the superb way ‘Acolyte’, their debut album released this year, turned out. The colossal wall of sound produced by Berlin-based electronic producer Ewan Pearson must be difficult to recreate live. But Delphic is up to the task and on this sunny afternoon in Denmark, nobody can touch them.

Coloured lights of red, blue and green flashing against the dark backdrop during Delphic’s performance remind us that this is a dance band to be danced to, and the crowd is quick to join the dance party. While they may not have known who these three blokes from a little town outside Manchester were when they first approached the Pavilion tent, none of that matters now. The lead vocals of bassist James Cook combine with Boardman’s backing oh so effortlessly, reminiscent of great ’80s synth bands. Matt Cocksedge on guitar is spot on, as evidenced on the shimmery ‘Submission’ and his solo on ‘Halcyon’. Simply brilliant.

They play all but one song from ‘Acolyte’, and crowd recognition sets in along the way when ‘This Momentary’ and ‘Counterpoint’ get their turn in the spotlight. Cook and his bandmates may have felt apprehensive at the start of this set, but any nerves have evaporated when they play the former, his confidence shoots sky high as the audience sings back to him the refrain of ‘let’s do something real!’ This isn’t the kind of music that should make one weep, but hearing ‘Counterpoint’ live, with the sad regretful lyrics of ‘it seems to me that we will never be’, makes me emotional. Immense. By the end, many punters stay behind, hoping to snag a setlist or some other souvenir to prove ‘I saw Delphic at Roskilde 2010’. World, meet Delphic - the future of dance pop.

Tags: Delphic, Features

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