Live Review: Dream Delay in Sydney
Penelope Roth ventures to Sydney’s The Standard to catch Dream Delay for Somethingyousaid.com:
“Gotta love it when a band comes out and plays their first song like it’s their last!” If I had to sum up Dream Delay’s gig last Friday night in one sentence, then this fan comment would pretty much do it.
It had been at least seven months since the Sydney indie electro band had put on one of their big trademark shows, and on a Friday in late December, over 200 partygoers packed into The Standard to hear what’s been keeping Dream Delay off the stage. There were new songs. And lots of them.
Ahead of the gig, Toby Shain (keys/songwriter) told me they have been immersed in a vigorous six-month songwriting process, wrote around 30 new tracks, including singles Home and The Anchor which were released a couple of days prior to the show.
Opening with Vices, the boys came out sounding sharp, encapsulating what Dream Delay is about; a mixture of moody electronica embellished with catchy chord progressions, rock elements and operatic harmonies. From the first verse, Ernst Carter Jnr (vocals) had the crowd’s full attention. His ability to go from a soulful croon to an operatic tone showed off his versatile singing style, which is full of emotion and expression.
New track, Monday was one of the poppier tracks of the set and a bit sunnier than their other songs. With its upbeat tempo, spacey synths and high pitched chorus. Taking it back a notch darker, Death Valley was forceful – and loud – with the electric guitar and bass putting a live stamp on this show.
John and Adam exited the stage with Cold Heart Weather, a song from DD’s debut self-titled EP. ‘It’s only once a song is stripped back to nothing that its strength is evident,’ Toby had earlier explained. So with only a piano and percussion, the crowd was serenaded by this simple and beautiful rendition which was completed with euphoric harmonising which captivated the crowd’s ears. Seaside Sickness conjured a dreamy electronic mood. This track followed their frequent crescendo format, starting out soft and wistful with a looping synth, gaining momentum as it did musical density. Every musical element, progressively built to a powerful and final climatic chorus, where the musical cohesiveness highlighted the group’s songwriting skills.
The tempo was quickened once again with lively pace and upbeat melodies in newly released track Home, then the employment of the delay pedal during the prelude to The Anchor, felt more artistic than just your average use of a musical apparatus. Ernst’s haunting vocals reverberated throughout the room atop an array of dreamy synths and lulling electronics. Starting out mellow and mournful, the gradual upsurge of bass, piano, drums, and electric guitar, created another definitive moment where Dream Delay’s ambition to be a live band came to execution. The gritty sound of the electric guitar added a layer of rock n roll and the finale of a powerful operatic melody over the musical harmonies was moving.
Admitting this was the moment they could have exited stage – fed their egos a little with waiting for an encore chant – Dream Delay ended the night on a high with Like Mountains We Stood Tall, an older track from their EP. So it seemed only appropriate when Ernst Carter Jnr stood exceptionally tall, climbing onto the shoulders of a fan to bring it home. Descending into the arms of fans to crowd-surf in true rockstar fashion, it was the only downfall of the night.
Review by Penelope Roth, title image by Louis Westgarth.