CD Title: “Live”
Band Website: www.idelirium.it
Label: Black Widow Records
Label Website: www.blackwidow.it
If you’ve been listening to progressive rock music for any length of time, you’ll no doubt know about the major impact the
prog of the early seventies had on Italy. Italy was perhaps the first country to fully appreciate the genre and where it could go.
The list of bands from that era is long and illustrious and one of the bands that stands out for many is Delirium. So it was with
great pleasure that Black Widow Records sent me a copy of the band’s new Live CD recorded at the end of 2006. Two thoughts came to
mind as I listened to the disc the first time through, 1 – it’s great that this band is still together and performing, and, 2 – Man
do these guys sound good!
Delirium originally came together in late 1969 at the start of the classic Italian progressive era.
They released three recordings, the third of which is their most highly regarded and certainly has pride-of-place in my collection,
before splitting up in 1975. It wasn’t until 2003 that the band reformed working with a couple founding members plus a couple new
players. Rehearsals and tours got them in shape and voila we have the live recording here. There are 13 tracks performed; 3 from the
first album (Dolce Acqua 1971) and 4 from their second (Lo scemo e il villaggio 1972). The CD is completed with a couple of single
releases from the early seventies, two covers and one amazing new track entitled “Notte a Bagdad” (3:21). What’s clear is that
the years haven’t dimmed the fire in these guys! The music is classic Italian progressive rock with large doses of jazzy influences
and a bit of softer pop-styled classical there as well. The performance is spot-on, tight and full of complex musicianship. The one
thing that always impresses me about Italian prog is how much they pack into small packages. Here most of Delirium’s compositions
tend to be in the five-minute range and yet they seem so much longer simply because so much seems to be happening. With a mix of instrumentals
and vocals there is a natural division, the instrumentals tend to be more complex, while the vocals tend to take on a more melodic
pop feel such as the 1972 single “E’ l’ora” (5:39). The song has a wonderful melody that is set within a driving rock oriented foundation
with analog sounding synths laid over-top. Where the vocals are heard they’re usually supported with some beautiful multipart harmonies.
Many of their compositions, even this single release, are arranged with parts that ebb and flow, building in tension and allowing
for release. There are also, as you would expect, some softer acoustic guitar and flute pieces such as “Speranza” (5:41) once again
incorporating some beautiful harmonies and a theme that builds and get grander as the song progresses. One of the more entrancing
tracks is “Gioia, Disordine, Risentimento” (6:17) from their second album which is a slow moving piece that alternates between being
majestic in scope and hypnotically placid. Delirium have at times been compared to Jethro Tull, primarily because of the flute playing
style, so it’s not surprising in a live setting they perform a Tull Medley (7:20), and again because of the live nature the disc ends
with a rousing rendition of the classic Joe Cocker song “With a Little Help from my Friends” (8:18).
usually not a fan of live discs, but I have to make an exception for Delirium Live for a few reasons, primarily because they’re performing
music from discs I don’t have, so for me this sounds very fresh. The other thing that I enjoyed is that while the musical performances
are recorded extremely well, there is a real live feel here, we hear the band talking to the audience, and we hear the deeply appreciative
crowd expressing the pleasure after certain musical moments, so you get to share in their excitement. It’s great to see Delirium back
in such fine form, fans of the band or Italian progressive rock in general will certainly want to add this disc to their collection.
Great news is they’re working on a new CD, Delirium 4…I can hardly wait.