Delain, Cyhra – The Ritz, Manchester
Date: 7th February 2020
The Masters Of Destiny tour hits Manchester. It’s album release day too for Delain’s new masterwork, Apocalyse & Chill. If you liked the album (we did – our review here) then the live show simply took things to another level. It’s time for a gathering.
A busy Friday night in town around the Oxford Road area, with We Will Rock You catering for the masses at the Opera House, but by far the biggest queue was the one that stretched from the Ritz all the way onto Oxford Road. Delain was in town for the second of four UK dates and showing obvious signs of becoming an increasingly popular draw.
First up on the bill though were Cyhra from Sweden – the land of heavy metal and Ikea. A band whose roots aren’t too far from the Delain tree and recognised by a crowd who seemed pretty much on their wavelength. Fronted by ex-Amaranthe singer Jake E and taking pride in introducing the presence of Alex Landenberg on drums they can also boast Shining, In Flames and Kamelot on their collective CVs. A set built on the strength of the No Halos In Hell album from the back end of 2019 meant a set of strong songs with a metallic bite and lashings of melodies. Job done. Crowd warmed and a few new fans gained for sure.
Delain had taken the bold step of planning eight of the new songs into their set and no-one seemed bothered – the crowd were positively enthusiastic – about the cries of “Manchester are you ready for another new one!?”
The new but familiar Burning Bridges was elevated to set opener and we’re transferred from the video location in wilds of Snowdonia to a packed rock venue, all strobe lighting and in Charlotte Wessels, a silver sequined vision conducting her people. Let’s get the obvious out of the way when we declare, or simply confirm what the Ritz audience knew, that Delain is a great band with a massively accomplished musical director in Martijn Westerholt.
However, it’s hard to take your eyes off Charlotte Wessels as she stands unchallenged as the focal point. Only when she takes the odd break do the likes of the guitar/drum duo of Timo Somers and Joey Marin de Boer step into the spotlight for an instrumental trade-off.
So, having dusted off a couple of new tunes, it was impossible not to feel the intense emotional uplift in the one-two of The Glory And The Scum and Suckerpunch. With Masters Of Destiny – an epic in five minutes whose huge power and inspired individual performances mark it as destined to rise to anthem status – kicking off another clutch from Apocalypse & Chill, it was a stunning opening forty five minute sequence, the proverbial worth the ticket price alone – I could have gone home happy right there and then.
However, it was worth hanging in to hear the thudding beats of Let’s Dance and the Manchester metalheads unashamedly belting out the “dance!” refrain. Yes, there’s more to Delain than just metal, although alongside Charlotte’s divine operatic tones occasionally complemented by something a bit harsher there was the chance to showcase in the intimacy of Ghost House Heart. Martijn stepping forward to play piano and the first appearance of the cello adding a touch of finesse amidst the general bombast as Charlotte channelled her inner of Kate Bush. An alternative to the usual trademark of stepping back, tilting the mic stand and swinging her hair in time and sequence with the guitar duo.
And still they came. A finale included The Gathering, Don’t Let Go and We Are The Others that are now established anthems and receive due consideration and appreciation from a fiercely partisan crowd.
A night to go down in the annals of rock history? A statement that’s maybe a little bold, but when you get a potential album of the year being released on the same day as what could be in the running for gig of the year and it’s only February, that’s saying something.
Photography by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page.