LIVE: The Delines – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, 09/11/2022 1

LIVE: The Delines – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, 09/11/2022

The Delines were last in Leeds in January 2019. Their second album, The Imperial, had only just come out, nearly five years after its predecessor, ColfaxThe Imperial’s release had been delayed when their lead singer Amy Boone was seriously injured in March 2016. She had been hit by a car whilst walking through a parking lot in Austin, Texas. A further consequence of this accident, and Boone’s lengthy recovery from it, meant that The Delines were out of live action for nearly three years. There then followed the no-little matter of the coronavirus pandemic. But the band from Portland, Oregon are now seriously making up for lost time. 

This year alone The Delines have not only released their third album, the imperious The Sea Drift – a record that is surely destined for the summit of many end-of-year lists – they have also been touring extensively. They were in Pocklington in East Yorkshire as recently as July and are now back out on the road again with a further series of dates across the UK and Europe.

Back in West Yorkshire this time round, The Delines follow a similar trajectory to the one they took when last here in Leeds. Late afternoon sees Amy Boone and The Delines’ guitarist and songwriter Willy Vlautin heading to the city’s premier independent record shop, Jumbo Records, for an exclusive signing session (travel delays from Dublin meant that the band, sadly, had to cancel their planned in-store performance) before heading just round the corner to the Howard Assembly Room for the evening show. 

And the show is a real beauty, the venue’s architectural splendour and its inspirational essence surely helping to bring the very best out of The Delines. “It’s a high-class joint”, concludes Willy Vlautin. And as if by way of reinforcing this view, Amy Boone adds, “we even get walked to the stage.”

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The Delines

As they had done in Pocklington, The Delines open with ‘This Ain’t No Getaway’. The song is a brilliant lightning conductor from which the electricity just flows for the rest of the set. It holds dear the band’s very being, the warm expressive swell of country soul that wraps itself around the underbelly of Willy Vlautin’s songwriting narratives in which darkness and danger never seem to be too far away.

There are old songs. ‘The Oil Rigs At Night’, from Colfax, was the first song that Amy Boone learnt after joining The Delines. Tonight she climbs into its very fabric as if suddenly reacquainting herself with the warmth and reassurance of her favourite autumn sweater. There are new songs. ‘Don’t Miss Your Bus In The Rain’‘Left Hook Like Frazier’, and ‘Waiting Out The Heat’, all of which are being road-tested on these dates to see if they will pass muster and make it onto the next Delines’ LP. They all sound pretty much spot-on to me.

And there are a couple of songs – ‘The Golden State’ and ‘My Blood Bleeds The Darkest Blue’ – that didn’t make the final cut for The Sea Drift but have recently seen the light of day on The Lost Duets 7” single. The former finds Vlautin and Boone at their most playful – think here of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra – whilst the latter is drenched in a wondrous mariachi horn courtesy of Cory Gray“Nobody leads a cooler life than him”, suggests Willy Vlautin, though he could equally be talking about The Delines. For all of the desolation and despair that lies at the heart of many of their songs, there is so much happiness and joy to be had. The five musicians clearly enjoy each other’s company, the camaraderie of touring, and being able to make such wonderful music together night after night.

Photos: Simon Godley

Some more photos of The Delines at Howard Assembly Room

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.