We arrived at the Millennium Dome, now the O2 Arena, at about 18:30 to find a fully formed queue, so being the respectable British people we slotted ourself in at the end of it and watched as for another 30 minutes the queue grew behind us. We later learnt that some dedicated (should that be d:edicated?) fans started the queue at 14:00....
After the doors open at 19:00 and the queue snaked their way into the venue we were greeted by a surprisingly agreeable DJ... Normally I am not a fan of DJ's however this one managed to mix the tracks very well, in a way that didn't make me want to suck my brain out with a straw... a good start really!
This gig was all about Stew... and this shown as Stew entered the stage on the dot of 20:00 and started to give the drums a beating, around him Martin, Tim, Jon and Stu G entered the small stage with balaclavas over their heads for the first song... it wasn't about Delirious? It was about Stew's last gig with Delirious? Metamorphis opened this gig with a real burst of energy, the whole crowd were singing along as Martin sung from behind his mask.
As God is Smiling came up the band ripped of their masks and introduced the catchy song from their newest album, Kingdom of Comfort. This was the track that I came away from the gig singing! It's just stuck in my head! Now is the Time followed this, another well known song that has almost become a classic within the Delirious set list.
Next another new song from their new album; Stare Down the Monster which went straight into Solid Rock. All was going swimmingly until Martin went to pick up the red megaphone and his mind went empty and the lyrics vanished. The band continued playing, Martin hummed into the megaphone and then after a hint from Stu G the lyrics came back and the event continued without a hitch!
After a small pause the band took us back to the Cutting Edge times when they were leading worship in a small school hall for just 75 people... they thought they had made it! Did You Feel the Mountain Tremble was sung out by all the people in the pit and up on the balconies. A fantastic feeling was in the air
Next the band fast forwarded (or is forward wound) us to 2008 playing the title track from Kingdom of Comfort, are we are own kings within our kingdom of comfort. Due to the various plays of the song at various gigs and over the internet many of the fans knew the lyrics and were singing along.
Continuing with the new album, and because it was one of Stew Smith's favourite tracks at the moment Martin taught everyone the chorus to a new track; All God's Children. After doing that he told us a little bit about who Stew Smith really was, describing him as the fittest man in music in reference to his triathlons and also a bit of a joker after stealing Chris Tomlin's toothbrush during a two week tour with him, washing it in the toilet whilst videoing it and then returning it to the original place... the video to emerge two weeks later! Martin then told us about the experience that had brought about the writing of this song when they were in India and they had visited the slums where mothers had to work as protitutes to feed their children. They had invited the children to come up on stage to sing along and the children had brought their mothers... and the song is all about how no matter who we are we are all God's children and we can praise Him because of that.
The third, and final, track in the Kingdom of Comfort miniset was How Sweet the Name which reminded me of an old hymn that should be sung agains't an organ as Tim played the keys and Martin sung softly along to it... then as should happen to all good hymns (such as Be Thou My Vision, or How Great Thou Art) the whole band kicked in and brought the song to a new level.
The sound of rain played over the PA oviously making the way for the World Service track Rain Down which was known by nearly everyone in the crowd. This led into another track from the new album; Give What You've Got. Paint the Town Red came up next which was brilliantly led by Martin.
Just the previous night the band had been playing in Portugal and Martin said what an amazing experience it was to have the songs sung in a different language and proceeded to give us the chorus of Majesty sung in Spanish, he then turned and joked to us "don't worry, we'll be sticking to English tonight" and the song continued through the amazing verses and chorus leading into the final song My Soul Sings.
The lights dimmed and the band went off stage, but this was not the end of the gig, not by any means! A few guys came on in the darkness and the whole drum kit came to the centre of the stage, completely obsuring our view of Tim for the encore. Stew came back as the lights rose up and introduced Break the Silence which became History Maker as "it just has Stew written on it" said Martin!
As the Tim continued to play in the background Stew stood up with a microphone in his hand... oh dear... they gave the drummer a mic... never a good idea! He told us a story of at one gig he had been asked if he wanted a go at singing whilst playing and had the job of singing his heart out whilst trying to keep the band in time. After the gig he went to the sound guy at the back of the venue to ask how it sounded, a blank faced sound guy investigated the desk to find the end of Stews microphone cable just lying on top of the desk, never been plugged in! Stew has never sung again! He then went on to thank his family; his wife and two daughters and for the sacrifices that they made. He said that Delirious? were more than just five people, it was the families behind them that made them who they were and it was what made it so special. He then thanked the fans for taking the few words of the songs and making it real using History Maker as a prime example. It has been an exciting few years but now he felt that it was time to call it a day with the band.
Stew's wife; Sarah and their children were invited up on stage for a final farewell from the band and as a gift to Stew they gave him something that he had wanted for at least two years - a blue Vesper scooter! History Maker is concluded and the band leaves the stage... its the end of an era.
Or not! Just as everyone is turning to go Martin comes back on stage and says... "I think we've got time for one more!" The familar chords from the fourth track on Glo are heard clearly and the audience starts buzzing as Martin sings "Investigate my life and make me clean..." argueably one of the best live tracks. Stu G does himself proud with the amazing guitar solo in the middle of the song and the audience sing word for word along with Martin. You can see Jon getting really into the song as one of his bass strings snaps, then another, another and finally all four of his strings are lying limp off the bottom of him bass. The song ends, the lights go down and everyone leaves knowning that they have just seen part of Delirious? history being made.
A fantastic gig and what better way to say good bye to their drummer who has been with the band for 16 years. A night not to be forgot in a hurry!