There had been quite a bit of a buzz in the air for this one; various influential local media outposts talking of big transformations in The Delawares' camp. Talk of brass sections, vocal line-up changes and last minute rehearsals all added to the apprehension. Evidently, I wasn't the only one who'd caught wind of this change as an eager crowd was seen queuing down the street before the doors for the Gifted promotions night had even opened.
And so first up were relative new comers Mary's Big Idea. A charming young band with an even more delightful lead singer; somewhat in the vein of Belfast ex-pats The Language of Flowers. Think acoustic belle-pop and heartfelt lyrics and you're part the way there; certainly ones to watch out for on the local circuit.
A huge surprise for me was witnessing The Winding Stair for the first time. It's really encouraging to see contemporary groups like these guys who aren't afraid to do their own thing. There's a picture of a lone barren tree in a wintry twilight on their myspace profile and for me this sums up their sound nicely. A mix of forms in a sense; cello and violin provide a classical element while a more traditional acoustic guitar and vocals act as a kind of folk bookend. Much applause was garnished at the end of their performance.
If you're a fan of melodic safe-rock then you'll love the The Fast Emperors. Personally I felt that somebody should have handed out the hammocks and earplugs. Though I have to admit that that these guys are good at what they do and did add a distinctly different sound to the line-up even if it wasn't to my liking.
The Delawares are now an extraordinary ten people strong! Added to the line-up were pedal steal guitar, two trumpets and a saxophonist. Though the most obvious change was new lead female vocalist Katie, whose countrified voice and stage presence furnished the band with a kind of supergroup feeling. Dominic has somehow managed to incorporate steal guitar veteran Ivan McLernon to rejuvenate long-standing Delaware classics such as 'It's Too Late' and 'Carolina'.
Of particular note was the latest brass version of 'Learnin' To Love' which gave the crowd even more to dance to. Psychedelic rock out 'Swampy' is always amazing to watch; ever happy Eamonn with his inspired guitar licks playing off Cully's individual sounding bass lines. Their bravery clearly paid off on the night as the crowd demanded a second encore.
Another successful evening all round at Gifted methinks!
Photos by Andy Martin