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Sunday, 17 October 2010

Washington Review

Delphic, DC9, Washington DC
The only thing missing is an appropriately ravey light show.
8th October 2010, DC9, Washington DC By Mary Chang Rating: 9/10

Somehow, the Nation’s Capital was gifted with Delphic’s only headlining gig during their current autumn campaign of North America supporting the Temper Trap. Being the headliner allows the band to spread its figurative wings unlike any of their other appearances, where they are an opener for a more conventional rock / pop outfit. And DC9’s weekly Liberation Dance Party proves to be just the place for Delphic to unleash its perfected blend of electronica and guitar rock on a mostly unsuspecting Washington audience.

Delphic, including bass-playing frontman James Cook, are a reticent bunch, content on letting the music speak for itself as they start the proceedings with ‘Clarion Call’, the opening track of their self-titled debut album. It’s the only brief moment of the night that the trio from Manchester can be said to be taking it easy: the rest of the set is a swirling maelstrom of sound, the DC9 stage a hive of activity as synths, percussion and guitars are played with precision. ‘Doubt’ immediately follows ‘Clarion Call’, turning up the energy several notches, and this energy level just keeps rising towards the boiling point as the set continues.

The band proffers ‘Red Lights’, with its emotional lyrics counterintuitively sung in an unemotional tone (but it works) and a wicked, heavily synth-laden extended outro, converting the club into a rave as Cook encourages punters to dance. This scene recalls Delphic’s early days, before they were signed and were making a name for themselves locally by staging secret, illicit raves in abandoned Manchester warehouses.

The only thing missing is an appropriately ravey light show. But the crowd doesn’t appear to mind; they are buoyed by all the action onstage, with girls and guys pogo-ing about like loons to the beats, arms in the air. DC crowds are sometimes referred to as ‘stiff’ when it comes to dancing, but you wouldn’t have known it looking at everyone letting loose to Delphic.

‘This Momentary’, ‘Halcyon’ and ‘Counterpoint’ are played in rapid succession, building on the excitement of the song preceding it. The crowning moment is when Delphic play the title track ‘Acolyte’. As is the tradition with classic dance songs, this one is rather long, clocking in at over nine minutes. But it’s nine minutes of breathtaking sonic beauty. Cook and keyboardist Rick Boardman’s vocals are ethereal, rising above the majestic guitars, beats, and synths. You realise that standing there in that cramped 200-capacity venue, you are witnessing something truly special.

By the end, the sweaty audience are eager for the band to play more songs and demand it they do. Without providing an encore, Delphic have managed to leave the Washington crowd wanting more and have ensured that the next time they return to the Nation’s Capital they will be welcomed with open arms and many more fans.

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