Live review: Delphic

Little Civic, Wolverhampton Wednesday, January 20

When [a]Delphic[/a] are good, which they are tonight, sporadically, they sound like [a]New Order[/a]. Not classic ‘Brotherhood’-era New Order – the processed rock of ‘Get Ready’ would be a better reference point for ‘This Momentary’ and ‘Doubt’, their two standout songs – but their fellow Mancunians are a fine band to emulate nonetheless. The problem comes when Delphic are bad. When they’re bad they sound like the music you hear on a PlayStation 3 menu screen.

And that won’t do, that won’t do at all.

At their worst, Delphic are just [a]Editors[/a] playing in front of strobe lights – big, yet safe commercial rock. Which is fine, if you’re their accountant, or buy five records a year based on which songs soundtrack the goal montages on [i]Match Of The Day[/i]. They will play closer to the top than the bottom of festival line-ups and they will all have gold discs on their rehearsal room wall by the end of the year – their debut has just gatecrashed into the Top 10 after all. But if you’ve seen their slick, Peter Saville-esque album art, their matching Droog-esque stage show outfits, or heard them muse about the merits of ace German techno label Kompakt or the libertarian spirit of the golden age of The Haçienda in interviews, then you might consider filing a claim for false advertising. At their worst, Delphic are an indie band with pretty much no independent spirit, and a dance band you can’t really dance to.

What you want them to be is closer to the spirit of their Lancashire peers [a]The Longcut[/a], now playing to one man and a disinterested dog somewhere in an end-of-career outpost signposted ‘life isn’t really fair at all’; a rock band who can take it higher and higher still; who are unrestrained in their performance and who can align synthetic sounds with moments of genuine human soul. And there are moments when Delphic achieve all of this: the coda of encore ‘Acolyte’ gets so high off the ground, by the time they come back down for the song’s close it looks like there’s stardust on their noses, while excellently named guitarist Matt Cocksedge gives the band something searching and unique. But there should be more – more movement, more frustration, hope, hurt, rage and romance. Their best songs suggest they may yet transcend to the place where you want them to be. But there are moments when Delphic are just uninspiring, dull man-rock, packaged within something far more enticing.

And that won’t do, that won’t do at all.

[b]James McMahon[/b]