Review: ‘The Delgados’

Glasgow's Delgados make the kind of sharply emotional music that works well as a soundtrack to a rainy day. So it made sense that the band frequently referenced L.A.'s own wet day in a concert more moody and directed than its most recent record, "Hate" (Mantra).

Glasgow’s Delgados make the kind of sharply emotional music that works well as a soundtrack to a rainy day. Drizzles of strings and lush, atmospheric sections of their songs often give way to intense, stormy midsections. So it made sense that the band frequently referenced L.A.’s own wet day in a concert more moody and directed than its most recent record, “Hate” (Mantra).

The rainy-day doldrums came early, when singer Emma Pollock jokingly said, “We’re going to be asking for more money (for tonight), because part of the contract was sun.” The smirk on her face was appealing, as was the next song, a 3/4 ballad that — like most of the night’s highlights — was propelled by an adept and versatile three-person string section that swooped into classically influenced passages and dissonant, indie-rock plucking with equal ease and determination.

The Delgados’ greatest strength is its arrangements; by putting together a large band for the show, singer-guitarist-songwriters Pollock and Alun Woodward gave their material the space to display its emotional range. The duo’s songs often go from lonely to lovely, romantic to resolute, and the extra musicians always found the exact tone appropriate for the occasion. The band also came in handy for a relevant encore cover of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” (“Mr. Blue sky/tell us why/you had to hide away”), with Pollock deftly handling vocal duties over a cheeky update of the prog-rock original.

Openers Aereogramme released one of this year’s unappreciated treasures, “Sleep and Release” (Matador). The Scottish band’s opening set made good on the album’s Tool-meets-Sigur Ros space-metal promise, with a set that included many of the record’s highlights, such as multisectioned “Indiscretion #243.” Singer Craig B. sings with hushed, reverent beauty and often explodes into neck-bulging screams, releasing tension in his raw, fierce passion.

The Delgados

El Rey Theater; 750 capacity; $15

Production

Presented by Goldenvoice. Reviewed April 14, 2003.

Cast

Band: Alun Woodward, Emma Pollock, Stewart Henderson, Paul Savage, Charlie Cross, Chloe Kent, Alan Barr, Sam Kynaston, Lewis Turner. Also appearing: Aereogramme.
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