Review of Delphic live at Islington Mill on February 2 2010
At the turn of the decade, and with the flicker of the post-Oasis fallout finally dimming, Mancunian music finds itself at a curious crossroads, torn between forging a new path, and rehashing the steadily decaying remains of the Hacienda and Britpop years for another generation. It doesn't take a music reviewer to note the relevance of tonight to the idea; while Princess Street's old Factory Records HQ is refitted in another cash-in on an ageing generation's nostalgia, across town, Salford's three year-old Islington Mill - the site of over 50 art, design and performance studios, and a figurehead of the city's artistic rebirth - hosts promoters Now Wave - themselves scarcely eighteen months in existence, yet in possession of a finger placed firmly on the pulse of musical innovation - who tonight present Delphic, the band perhaps most representative of the Manchester New Wave.
Certainly, the comparison most often thrust Delphic's way, and most detrimental to their cause, is that with Hacienda flag-bearers New Order. The band don't do themselves any favours, at least on a superficial level; three starched shirt-clad, intense young men hunched over synthesizers and effects, aping the minimalist aesthetic and existentialist concerns of their forebears, is far from the clean-break necessary from the shadow looming over Cottonopolis. Yet while they owe more than a debt of gratitude to those before them, the sense of urgency, vibrancy and importance that bleeds from every track of their debut Acolyte is something worth getting excited about. That excitement is present in abundance tonight.
Opener Clarion Call is little more than an introduction; an explosive three-minute 'call to arms' that, when mirrored with the throbbing and incessant closerRemain, acts as a mere preface to a set that reworks the most part of their debut for a baying dancefloor, a sort of electro Night Versions for the new millennium. Such self-remixes transform the sparseness of their debut into insistent dance music which, coupled with the universal, if sporadically insubstantial, lyrics it underpins, makes for an experience that rarely dips below magnificence. As the sampled vocals of latest single Doubt swell with an almost techno reverence andRed Lights implodes in frenetic aggression, it's clear that while Manchester's old school built its dance on the pillars of Mancuso loft parties and the disco end of the post-punk spectrum, Delphic's live show owes more to the pulsing electronica of Laurent Garnier or Underworld.
Barely half an hour later, the house lights are up. Brevity, it would appear, is another Delphic trait. As the hordes return to a bitter Salford night, cries ofCounterpoint's mantra - 'tell me nothing's wrong today' - continue to ring out, and it's pretty evident Manchester is onto something special. Creating an aura of such substance and significance is no mean feat, and already hints at a longevity that could well springboard this band into the same league as the Mancunian legends of yore.