Delaney Davidson – Q Theatre: April 20, 2024 (Concert Review)

Delaney Davidson performed to a packed house at Auckland’s Q Theatre last night. The 13th Floor’s Aaron Christiansen was on the scene with his camera and his pen.

Delaney Davidson, lover of vaudevillian arts and a master on the stage, delves into Southern Gothic, folk, country ballads, and gospel. His latest album, Out of My Head, is proudly displayed on the merchandise table. The central image—Delaney’s face, hidden behind a mask—might be a tribute to Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, or perhaps it signifies something more. It seems someone or something has caught his attention— a muse, a lover, a friend. Tonight’s performance at Auckland’s Q Theatre, which is sold out, might provide some answers.

Delaney enters the stage decked out in a Western-styled suit embroidered with skulls and flames, a Stetson hat atop his head, against a backdrop that advertises the night’s songs in a style reminiscent of a turn-of-the-century Western film.

Tonight, Delaney and his band will play his 10th album, Out of My Head in its entirety, which, according to Delaney, was written during the COVID lockdown. He describes the album as spanning a range from rage and despair to protection and love.

Out of My Head,” the opener, draws on feelings of isolation, skepticism, and fear of the unknown, reflecting the period it was written. The lyrics, “Out of my head, part of me is living, and part of me’s dead,” set a powerful tone and context for the album.

“Can’t Get You (Out of My Head)” is about lust and obsession. The song creeps along as Delaney slyly sings, “See the door open, won’t you come on through? I want to tell you, baby, I love you,” his intentions underscored by the backing band.

For “You Drive me Wild” Delaney and band members Heather Webb, Carla Camilleri and Chris O’Connor wear identical cut-out masks of Delaney’s face and dress in red capes for a vaudevillian spectacle about an unreciprocated relationship. Delaney sings, “Seems that I think about you so much more than you’ll ever think about me.”

“Heaven is Falling” is a beautifully arranged ballad that highlights the talented string section—Sarah Spence, Jessica Hindin, and Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper,comprising the black string ensemble The haunting lyrics suggest themes of loss and death, with the possibility of reunion in the afterlife: “Heaven is falling, heaven is calling,” Delaney whispers, “Old friend, I’m ready to see you again.”

At various points, Delaney enquires whether the audience would like to know how the songs came about. On the origins of “Heaven is Falling,” he reveals that he and Hayley Westenra met up for coffee and wrote the song together, deliberately shying away from specific meanings. The mask stays in place.

“Don’t Walk Away from Love” opens with the Black String ensemble’s stunning string arrangement, joined by Carla Camilleri on keys and Damian O’Connor’s sparse drums. Delaney’s voice breaks as he sings, “Don’t turn your back on love, don’t turn away the things that you have won for a lonely team of one.”

“Just Call” is a jangly, bouncy closer to the album’s performance, offering support, kindness, and hope: “War is over, no one won, and everybody’s free. Dry your eyes and let go of that load…just call.”

For the encore, Delaney returns to the stage playing “Everything is Here,” due to a cord malfunction with his acoustic guitar. The audience is essentially treated to a vocal rendition, with the guitar doing its best to provide unaided support within the full theatre.

Guitar sorted and with the band returning to the stage, it’s a fan favorite in “Broken Wheel,” the closer of “Little Heart.

By the end, we may not know what Delaney, masked up, is covering, but for those more adventurous fans out there at the merchandise stand, Delaney has created risograph-printed masks of his face in glorious 3-D. We may not be able to figure out the mysteries that surround Mr. Davidson, but maybe at home with your own Delaney Davidson mask, you can.

Aaron Christiansen

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Aaron Christiansen:


Set List:

  1. Out of My Head
  2. Can’t Get You
  3. Disassociate
  4. Drive Me Wild
  5. Heaven is Falling
  6. Please Baby Please
  7. Care of You
  8. Racing Through the Night
  9. Leading You This Way
  10. Listen to the Stars
  11. Don’t Walk Away
  12. Just Call
  13. Everything is here
  14. Broken Wheel (from Lucky Guy)
  15. Little Heart (from Self Decapitation)

Delaney Davidson next performs in Christchurch on Saturday, April 27th. Click here for tickets