Can a church serve alcohol? This was my first thought when I saw that there was going to be a bar at Delamere’s debut album launch, in the house of God. Yes it can, as it turns out and it doesn’t have to be red wine.
Walking up the steps of All Saints Church, Leek, it was The Situation’s very own Steve Hammersley who greeted me at the door, in his usual role of box office ticket person. Once my hand had been stamped and I’d been directed to the toilets (“down those steps, out the back of the church, turn right and it’s the first building you come to”), I was in and there was no turning back.
Once I’d shaken off the rain and the miserable summers evening, it was then that my surroundings really took ahold of me. The first thing that caught my eye was the merch table and the bar, both situated next to each other and both being run by friends and family of the band. Much like the merch, the drinks were reasonably priced and it was quite clear that things were probably going to get a little bit messy.
At the other end of the church, the stage and lighting rig had been positioned in front of several rows of pews, with a large space in-between for people to get up close and personal with the band. Most breathtaking of all was the partially lit window arches behind the stage, which accentuated the stained glass windows and the patterned ceiling, creating a truly beautiful backdrop.
Before long it was time for the first act of the evening to get things underway. This job had been given to David Liversidge, a Manchester based singer/songwriter performing under the name LiVVO. With his trusty acoustic guitar in hand and cool effects pedals that made everything sound a bit more awesome, LiVVO played original tracks including current single ‘Open And Close’ to a storming high.
Swiftly afterwards, indie rock band The Guru’s took their places as the final support of the evening. The large crowd huddled at the back by the makeshift bar had slowly begun to trickle towards the stage, giving The Guru’s a sizeable audience to perform to. The band lead their set with dominance and control, receiving a rapturous applause from listeners and gaining new fans in the process.
And then it was time for Delamere to launch their debut album. The floor in front of the stage was now heaving with bodies, all fidgeting to catch the best view of the action. The lights went down and the introduction to ‘Power’ by Kanye West boomed out of the speakers. Armed with their instruments and walking like kings of the world, all four members of Delamere took their places before playing along to the track. It was something that only stadium headliners would do, making me question why they were headlining a church in Leek rather than Wembley. Everyone in the building was glad they weren’t though, at least for the night anyway, as the limited space made the whole thing seem very intimate.
The band kicked off their set with ‘Bright Young Things’, the opening track from the album. Vocalist, guitarist and synth guy James Fitchford looked out into the crowd with a determined expression, completely emerging himself in the moment that surrounded him. ‘Regress’, ‘Do You Want Me?’ and ‘Rain’ followed, along with a great cover version of ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ by Candi Staton, which had the whole audience dancing and singing their hearts out.
Away from the stage and the rowdy Leek crowd, friends and family members watched proudly from a distance. Mum’s and dad’s linked arms and danced together, observing their sons put on their strongest show yet, possibly considering just how far they’d come. It’s easy to forget that many bands often begin with the support of parents, who give up their evenings, earnings and empty spare rooms to help their kids chase their dreams. This certainly seemed the case for Delamere.
Back at the front of the stage, the band were charging through their set list with equal amounts of power, passion and pride. ‘So Long’ saw Fitchford really demonstrate his vocal strength as well as his skills as a tom player, adding an extra punch to the track by hammering the hell out of the drum by his side. ‘Kill It’ grew slowly, before eventually filling out around the building, bouncing off the walls and making the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention. ‘Vampire’, ‘Headstrong’ and crowd favourite ‘Black And White Space’ completed the main chunk of the set, with audience members singing out in enjoyment.
There was just time for a four track finale featuring ‘Heart’, ‘Woods’, a Luther Vandross cover of ‘Never Too Much’ and ‘Betty Boop’, complete with an amazing light show featuring all the colours of the spectrum.
Once the music was over and the audience began coming down from the night’s high, all that was left was to pack up and head home. By the door, Fitchford was shaking the hands of audience members, who were beginning to limp, stagger and tumble out of the venue. The smile on his face said it all. Delamere’s debut album had rocketed into the skies over his hometown and his band had just put on an absolute killer party to launch it.