Concert Review: Delaney Davidson, The Wine Cellar, 9 July 2020

With the first of two all-seated sold-out shows this week at The Wine Cellar, Delaney Davidson delivered a stunning theatrical one-man-band show of haunted gothic Southern American Blues, Country and God-fearing Church music.

If that sounds intense, it was. I have primarily seen Delaney playing with other artists, usually in a more common Country or Americana music setting. He gave memorable performances at the Neil Young Tribute to Live Rust at the Civic Theatre in August last year.

So, this was my first solo show and in a perfect carnival side-show setting.

Delaney strides on stage, some red eye shadow gives him a slightly demented look.

A large incense candle is used to blow smoke around the room, a looped beat playing all the while. Some dancing to complete the ritual.

Opening song Movin’, all Western movie atmospheric soundtrack. A prominent looped rhythm, some Duane Eddy twang. Morricone mood music for a Tarantino cowboy flick.

So Long sees Delaney playing rhythm and lead on one guitar which starts off with surf music. Then builds with more loops and effects until it morphs into Americana with feedback.

We’re coming together of free will, aren’t we?

The first of the edgy between song banter. It will have meaning later.

The third song is introduced as a voodoo Haitian song. And this sounds like a full band. Drums on a loop. Maracca’s produced by shaking his guitar. Southern red-neck psychobilly singing Satan will be there, Lord on the seventh day.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce meets Nick Cave.

Next song Death, is introduced as a long dream journey. We imagine a six-year old in bed, middle of the night. A breeze sees him drifting out to the back yard. Darkness, trees, a shape. Then a radio plays a nice rockabilly country tune. David Lynch at his most ominous and unsettling. The voice of a demented preacher. Covers himself in a black shroud. Moves off the stage and walks through the audience. The dark reverse of a gospel singer testifying as he moves through a congregation.

The theme continues with the next song Hellhound, which is a tour-de-force of Robert Johnson as incantation and resurrection. Guitar sounding like a car starting, twanging and shredding.

Blues falling down like hail/ If tomorrow was Christmas day and today was Christmas Eve/ Hellhound on my trail.

Home starts with a simple beat and more twangy guitar. But vocally Delaney takes off and starts singing in tongues. I hear mutated Elvis, Charlie Feathers, bebop Alan Vega, Captain Beefheart driving his Tarotplane. A truly awesome necrophiliac ravaging of it all.  

Delaney calls for a request and settles on more Blues. Next one may be called Still. Starts with a John Lee Hooker Detroit stomp beat and builds with a pronounced Jack White(Stripes) singing style.

Delaney speaks. Tonight is about going away from dark places, leaving the demons behind, into a brighter future. Get thee behind me.

The demons being fear, isolation and quarantine. Which has brought live music and artists livelihood to a standstill.

South then attempts to do just that. A fast rhythm loop opens a portal for a James Burton twang and rumble which he then shreds. Drums beating like Africa, but actually like the Black Fife and Drum music from around Tennessee and Mississippi.

The encore is a three-song set with Marlon Williams, who has a lockdown beard.

The classic Banks of the Ohio, where Delaney does some country/bluegrass dancing, or stomping.

One called I Had a Dream Last Night, I think, which has some great high harmony singing.

They close with a beautiful Maori song which I have heard from many years ago but whose name is not reliably recorded on their set list.

A stunning and superlative show from a gifted musician.

Music for obsessives and I’m glad to see it has a good following.

In lieu of a set list which may not be that accurate, why not check out some influences?
Captain Beefheart   Mirror Man
Gun Club   Fire of Love
Alan Vega   Alan Vega
Otha Turner and the Afrossippi Allstars
Tav Falco and Panther Burns Behind the Magnolia Curtain

Rev Orange Peel         

Click any photo to see a full gallery of Delaney Davidson and special guest Marlon Williams. All photos by Veronica McLaughlin Photography