Òran Mór Sun 27th January 2019
From Celtic Connections Festival 17 Jan to 3 Feb 2019
By MIKE RITCHIE
The band’s polite request to have the stage lights dimmed ever so slightly said so much about this elegant, distinguished and eloquent performance.
In truth, The Delines don’t need spotlights, dramatic backdrops or any razzamatazz to deliver their music. There’s no extravagant showmanship or pyrotechnics just quality, sincere songs that shine, even though the topics are mostly bleak – heartbreak, overcoming loss, looking for things you can’t have, folk down on their luck, big style.
The songs are somehow mysteriously soothing and that’s all down to the considered and fluent lyrics of Willy Vlautin (ex Richmond Fontaine and now acclaimed author) which come to life in the gorgeous, impeccable vocals of the wonderful, Amy Boone. The almost retro country soul arrangements cushion the singing making for a compelling combination that creates a hush.
We were all absorbed as the band, unhurriedly and gently, eased their way through the set with songs from current release, The Imperial, dominating the set list. The album was delayed three years as Amy (still walking with a stick) recovered from a serious accident so this made the show even more poignant and welcome. That the band loved playing this music was clear for us all to see.
Title track, Wake Up Charley, which opens the album and Holly The Hustle were emboldened in a live setting as Amy’s polish and warmth at the mic led us through the travails of the songs’ characters with no little grace, plus sultry and soothing charm. Eddie & Polly, which was the first single, was almost spritely and there is a lightness to the song that took my memory into Fontaine territory.
There was a dip into 2014 debut Colfax with a mesmerising The Oil Rigs At Night and Colfax Avenue with Amy a tender, vocal narrator whose tones and phrasing appeared effortless and brought to mind Rickie Lee Jones in some ways.
Alongside the shadowy Vlautin on guitar (there was barely a light on him), Cory Gray on keyboards/trumpet, plus Fontaine members, Sean Oldham on drums, and bass player, Freddie Trujillo caressed the songs, moulding their carefully-crafted playing to the singing. This was a band in union, committed to style. Simply put, this was a triumph of a gig.