Delirious? Bow-out with a sell-out

British Christian band Delirious? called time on their 17- year career with a sell-out farewell tour in November. The Littlehampton rockers, who once enjoyed chart success with songs such as ‘Deeper’ and ‘White Ribbon Day,’ played six dates around the UK in the final leg of their ‘History Makers Farewell Tour’, finishing at London’s 4,500-capacity Hammersmith Apollo.

Delirious? have played to millions of people worldwide over the last two decades, and the final gig was a suitably epic affair, with the band playing as their own support act, albeit in the guise of their former incarnation, The Cutting Edge Band. This opening set, which featured subtle references to their early-90s look, included performances of early worship songs including ‘I Could Sing of Your Love Forever’ and ‘The Happy Song.’

After a brief break, and costume (and, in one case, hairpiece) change, the band returned to play a two-hour set including many of their best-loved and most memorable songs. An early highlight was King of Fools track ‘Sanctify,’ in which the band donned the same football shirts they wore during their 1997 Wembley Stadium appearance at Noel Richards’ ‘Champion of the World’ event. Singer Martin Smith brilliantly mimicked the movements of the original performance, which was relayed onto a giant backdrop behind the stage; and throughout the evening this screen displayed a number of vintage images and video clips from the band’s career.

The relentless set featured songs from all seven of their studio albums, including ‘Bliss’ (Mezzamorphis), ‘Jesus’ Blood’ (Glo) and ‘Love is the Compass’ (Audio Lessonover?). ‘Obsession’, the bassheavy Cutting Edge song which graduated into the heart of the 90s Delirious? live show, was also present, backed with moody red lighting and impassioned vocal.

Perhaps the most moving moment of the show came when former drummer Stew Smith who departed the line-up in 2008, rejoined the band for ‘Investigate’.

Songs were interspersed with stories, thanks and prayers from the frontman, whose energy and appetite for props and costume changes were as great as ever. Towards the end he even donated his trademark white megaphone to a delighted audience member, who Smith had spotted crowd-surfing moments earlier.

After two encores, the gig finally drew to a close with the soaring ‘My Soul Sings’, at which point the band’s wives and children (we counted 18) took to the stage to embrace them and share in the long and warm crowd ovation. Among his closing words of thanks, Smith turned missional troop-rallyer, telling the crowd ‘this is not the end, it’s the beginning, and now it’s over to you.’ From the start, the focus was on Delirious? fans picking up the gauntlet to be ‘History Makers’ – radical disciples living to make a change in their culture. ‘This was never really about us,’ said Smith finally, ‘it was always about you.’

Despite the upbeat ending however, there was a note of disappointment among the words of goodbye. After the gig, keyboardist Tim Jupp appeared to allude to some unfulfilled dreams for the band. In a blog post on the band’s main website, Jupp wrote: ‘It’s been an emotional few months, seeing what has felt like an incompleted (sic) mission come to an end. Many people have asked us over these past few years if we have felt there has been more to achieve, and we had always replied with an unwavering confidence that there was still so much to do, so many places to go to, and so much passion in us that we would be around for a long time to come. Being totally honest, I want to apologise that things didn’t work out that way, and that this journey for many seems to have been cut short before reaching its destination.’

That certainly wasn’t the view inside the Hammersmith Apollo however. What’s more, the final gig was being filmed by a huge amount of expensive-looking camera equipment, suggesting we haven’t quite seen the last release from Delirious? yet.