Last night I headed up the M40 with friend Matt (Matt Mackerel maybe…) to see Delta Spirit play the latest date of their short UK tour at the Hare & Hounds in Bimingham. Our first visit to said venue.
En route I discovered, as a toddler, Matt had been best mates with MM idol Pete Kember (of Spacemen 3 fame, aka Spectrum) – how cool is that? Anyway, childhood stories aside, we arrived early enough to see first support act and local boys This Love Affair deliver an entirely pleasant set of indie rock. “Like the Cure crossed with Vampire Weekend” said Matt sagely.
Next was Nathaniel Rateliff, friend of the headliners, and a joy to watch from beginning to end. “Like Martin Stephenson” said Matt sagely as the set began (enough to make Martin Stephenson fan Mrs Mackerel very jealous) and the comparison was true enough. It was one beautifully crafted song after another, although as you might expect from a US troubadour, there was a distinct twang and world-weariness to their sound that called to mind boxcars, dusty highways, empty bottles of whiskey and heartbreak in equal measure, but best of all the set was shot though with a perfectly judged mix of nostalgia, melancholy and downbeat good humour..
Download Nathaniel Rateliff – Early Spring Till mp3 (from In Memory Of Loss)
With the audience suitably in the mood now, headliners Delta Spirit took the stage and proceeded to up the pace and tempo with their own deeply personal take on bar-room blues and indie rock. Much more ferocious then they appear on record, a blistering Bushwick Blues, a thunderingly catchy Trashcan, a pounding White Table, and a visceral Children were all superb, and left no one in any doubt that these boys mean what they say.
All were anchored by the powerful, and appropriately gruff, vocals of Matthew Vasquez and used to equally good effect on the more mid-tempo country tinged numbers like Ransom Man, and a spectacular version of St Francis. An encore including crowd favourite People C’mon that was simply howled into the Birmingham night rounded off the evening perfectly and sent us on our way grinning and with Matt unable to find a sage comparison, and this methinks, was entirely a good thing.
If you can – go see this tour, at the risk of sounding corny, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Delta Spirit are like christmas cake and malt whiskey, a great combination and a real treat. See below for remaining UK dates and also watch out for them on Later with Jools Holland soon.
Download The Delta Spirit – Bushwick Blues mp3 (from History From Below)
Download The Delta Spirit – Trashcan mp3 (from Ode To Sunshine)
Download The Delta Spirit – People C’mon mp3 (from Ode To Sunshine)
Tonight The Barfly, London
22 Sep The Ruby Lounge, Manchester
23 Sep Captain’s Rest, Glasgow