Photo: Sebastian Vickers
February 9, 2020

All gallery photos: Ian Jenkinson

The 02 Institute feels like the perfect venue for a Delain show and their brand of symphonic and orchestral metal – the building originally opened in 1908 – the high ceiling and the ornate balcony creates an auspicious and intimate setting. And in this delightful venue, there’s more than a hint of anticipation from a crowd bathed in an intense blue light, there is muted chatter which the walls seem to hold and at times it feels like no-one is talking at all. It is the first night of the UK leg of the tour and as the crew set up the stage, there is some interest in the set list as it is taped down to the floor, cameras are held aloft to capture it; others are scrolling through their phones at previous set lists and there is a strange atmosphere of trepidation.  For the Delain themselves, it must be a momentous occasion for their band to begin the UK run of dates and on the eve of the release of their brand new album and they must have their own consternation – as well as excitement – when their new creation is likely to surprise their fanbase.

There is a roar as the lights drop and the intro booms from the PA and band members one by one run onto the stage leaving only the central mic stand vacant and when vocalist Charlotte Wessels strides on that it feels like every single hand in the room is held aloft. Delain blast into Burning Bridges, a song that at least has some familiarity as a single released from the new album Apocalypse & Chill. The sound does take a minute to stabalise and for a moment, that cavernous high ceiling swallows even Charoltte’s pristine vocal delivery but rights itself before the chorus takes hold. One song in, it is obvious that Delain are one confident band and there are knowing smiles across the board as the last chords ring out. April Rain brings real familiarity with the piano intro as the audience belts out the lyrics, similarly The Glory And The Scum brings the heavy and some co-ordinated headbanging courtesy of keyboard maestro Martijn Westerholt perched at the back, bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije and guitarist Timo Somers who takes on all guitar duties with aplomb since Merel Bechtold left the band in 2019. The infectious Suckerpuch has the crowd shouting back the “whoah” chorus and then it is time for the live debut of new cut Creatures where the audience stand stock still while taking in a totally new tune, contemplating where the song sits in the grand scheme, soaking in the atmosphere and the appreciation shown at the end is quite inspirational.

The show is then slowed right down, drummer Joey de Boer, Somers and van der Oije disappear off stage, Martijn Westerholt sits at a new set of keys brought onto the main stage, cellist Elianne Anemaat arrives and completed by Charlotte Wessels, the three face each other to perform a stunningly beautiful Ghost House Heart – another live debut from the new album. Following a wondrous The Hurricane is another Apocalypse & Chill highlight in Masters Of Destiny, the serene line “Like a deer still like a stone on the road…as headlights approach” before Charlotte hammers out those jaw dropping chorus vocals that should leave no-one in doubt as to her prowess as a singer and that high ceiling is filled to capacity with sound. There is then three more in a row from the new record and following the pop veined Lets Dance; the brilliant One Second that features Timo Somers duetting vocals with Charlotte, Somers stays in the spotlight as there is a cool take on the guitar solo with the album instrumental Combustion. It is impossible to fault Timo Somers’ performance at all, and he for sure can pull a perfect ‘guitarist face’ as he ekes those strings. What can be missed from the album version is how good the drums are, with the spots pointed towards Joey de Boer and the two facing each other off, it is quite the spectacle for a track that could have been seen as an indulgence on record.

Delain’s appreciation for their audience never ceases and they appear genuinely humbled by a mid-show 5 minute ovation, there is a deep connection, not just with their music but as people. One song is dedicated to the friend of an audience member, no-one knows who this is, a fan of the band who has passed maybe and at the end of the song the guy holds his thumb aloft and says – not shouts – “thanks, Charlotte” and it is like the two are having a conversation and a special bond has been cemented even further.

Delain rattle through Moonbathers highlight Hands Of Gold and one of only two tracks from the excellent We Are The Others album, Not Enough, with its proggy keys in the last third; a request for the crowd to bounce to Don’t Let Go and a stunning rendition of live staple The Gathering. The set ends with the only song it could end on – We Are The Others – which never fails to impress, a song for everyone and a true connection between band and audience.

Playing seven songs from an album that was not even out (albeit for another 5 hours) was a brave move from Delain but the confidence in the material shone through and the trust from the audience was more than rewarded with a flawless 1hr and 45 minute set that left everyone wanting more. Delain has been steadily climbing the symphonic metal mountain over the last decade and their time is now – Apocalypse & Chill is very likely to take them to the summit.

Setlist

  • (Intro)
  • Burning Bridges
  • April Rain
  • The Glory And The Scum
  • Suckerpunch
  • Creatures (live debut)
  • Ghost House Heart (live debut)
  • The Hurricane
  • Masters Of Destiny
  • Let’s Dance
  • One Second
  • Combustion
  • Hands Of Gold
  • Not Enough
  • Don’t Let Go
  • The Gathering
  • Fight Fire With Fire
  • Pristine
  • We Are The Others
  • (Monarch)
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