I never imagined that The Delgados would get together again. But, at the beginning of last month, it emerged that a five-date tour across the UK has been pulled together for January 2023.
Here’s the thing…..some eight or so months ago, I happened to be in the kitchen area that partly doubles up as the offices of the studios of Chemikal Underground, helping with the packing and posting of a Mogwai re-release on which there had been a larger than anticipated mail order. Emma Pollock and Paul Savage were working next door in the recording area, laying down some vocals for what is intended to be Emma’s next solo album, and when they took a break and came in for a coffee, I took the opportunity to cheekily ask what I always ask when I bump into them, or indeed anyone associated with the band.
“Any chance of you doing the same as Arab Strap and getting back together for some live shows?”
The answer was the same as always. A polite but firm ‘No’, with the added reminder that Alun Woodward and Stewart Henderson were now pursuing post-music careers and professions that wouldn’t enable them to find the time to devote to playing and performing again. The four friends had loved their time as a band, but the decision to break-up in April 2005 was never going to be revisited.
Except…….it now has emerged that as far back as 2019, the four of them had started to talk about the possibilities of reforming for some gigs. It may well have been that the pandemic put a spoke in the wheels in terms of how and when such a thing might happen, but it also led to a situation where this reformation was one of the best kept secrets within the Scottish music scene. Nobody seemed to have an inkling until that recent social media announcement about the tickets going on sale later in the same week.
A lot of music fans of a certain age in Scotland were genuinely giddy with excitement. The Delgados are one of those bands who never got the recognition they truly deserved over the ten years they were active, but who have become appreciated more greatly since they stopped recording and performing. Part of this is down to the ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ cliche, but there’s also been an acknowledgement that many Scottish musicians who have made a name for themselves in the 21st century owe a debt of some form or other to The Delgados. The Barrowlands show promises to be quite an emotional homecoming.
All of which lead to the
Monday Wednesday hi-quality vinyl rip. The first track on the second side of The Great Eastern, the album nominated for The Mercury Prize in 2000, losing out to Badly Drawn Boy‘s The Hour of Bewliderbeast.
It is six-and-a-half minutes long. It is a complex song which changes shape and tempo on more than one occasion. It is a quiet-loud-quiet-loud type of song, but to reduce it to that would be to overly-simplify things. It begins as a haunting and fragile ballad and comes to an end as a frantic piece of indie-rock, all the while offering strings, woodwind and hints of brass tucked away subtly in the background.
It is grandiose.
It is epic.
It is majestic.