DELAIN, Cyhra, Anson Rooms, Bristol, 8 February 2020DELAIN, Cyhra, Anson Rooms, Bristol, 8 February 2020

Like fellow Dutch band Epica, Delain know how to stage a gig and make it feel like a party. Or maybe they just throw one hell of a party that feels like a gig. Although the Anson Rooms was only about two-thirds full, crowd and band engaged with each other so completely that each song concluded with a roar worthy of a football stadium – an able achievement in itself, but all the more impressive given that a massive chunk of their set was drawn from ‘Apocalypse And Chill’, the album which had only been released the previous day.


Openers Cyhra, boasting former Amaranthe vocalist Joacim ‘Jake E’ Lundberg together with guitarists Jesper Strömblad and Euge Valovirta, and drummer Alex Landenburg, were more than up to the job in hand, competently delivering a set that showcased the melodic approach of both ‘Letters To Myself’ and the more recent 'No Halos In Hell' outing. They worked hard and the applause they received proved that they’d succeeded in winning over a partisan crowd. A minor criticism was that it wasn’t particularly slick – lots of onstage downtime broke things up – and that the reliance on backing tracks and the lack of a bassist and did hollow out the bottom end. Countering that though was the very fact that they weren’t afraid to be seen enjoying themselves, and their infectious enthusiasm rippled through the venue, swelling the audience song by song.


Built on the foundation of a project envisaged by former Within Temptation keyboard player Martijn Westerholt, fronted by the enigmatic vocalist Charlotte Wessels, and named from a Stephen King novel, Delain are justifiably allowed to bask in the glory engendered by a decade-and-a-half of hard work. As previously mentioned, eight of the nineteen songs on the night might have been unfamiliar to some – a risky move, potentially, although ‘Masters Of Destiny’, ‘Burning Bridges’ and ‘One Second’ had all been previously released in some shape or form, giving the die-hards the heads-up of what to expect. And they – along with everyone else, come to that – wouldn’t have been disappointed. Slimmed back to a five-piece now with drummer Joey Marin de Boer, guitarist Timo Somers and the tall-in-height and long-in-name bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije sharing the stage with Westerholt and Wessels, Delain are not only exciting to watch and are the very personification of crowd-pleasers. Aside from the new material, the band’s back catalogue was cleverly plundered: ‘The Gathering’ and ‘Pristine’ flew the flag for ‘Lucidity’ (the album that started it all), ‘April Rain’ and ‘Suckerpunch’ were greeted as old friends, and in songs like inevitable set closer ‘We Are The Others’, Delain can say more in four minutes than many bands manage in a lifetime.


© John Tucker February 2020