LIVE: Delta Sleep @ The Joiners, Southampton

By Danny Randon

Riding on the crest of math rock’s biggest wave this side of the millennium, and just a few weeks on from releasing their second album ‘Ghost City’, breaths are bated in the hope that Delta Sleep can radiate the cinematic beauty of their sophomore record live on stage.

Proving that you should never underestimate the entertainment value of local show-openers, Sketchshow fizz and pop with youthful enthusiasm. The Southampton quintet fire out tasty little nuggets of funky, proggy melodic rock and, as they plot a course for the studio at the end of the year, there’s as much room for growth as there is talent in these homegrown hopefuls.

There are parts of Tangled Hair’s performance where the level of raw skill and ability is enough to make you weep. The trio flit with laser precision between delicate solo refrains from singer-guitarist Alan Welsh and full-band freneticism, but then each composition is followed by lashings of brilliant onstage banter. Humour is a facet that holds some bands back from graduating from the school of Mike Kinsella worship, but Tangled Hair are not one of those bands, sounding stunning on nearly every conceivable level.

There would be no shame in Delta Sleep admitting they have been upstaged by their Big Scary Monsters labelmates, but they are far too dogged to do such a thing. From the moment they spring to life with ‘El Pastor’, the four-piece perform what is essentially a 50-minute balancing act.

For every moment of jagged intensity in ‘After Dark’ and ‘Sans Soleil’, there’s a pocket of warmth and humility that bursts open on a glorious rendition of ‘Single File’ and the euphoric swell of ‘Sultans of Ping’. There’s a ramshackle nature to the way they playfully tear through their set, yet somehow they never miss a single off-kilter beat or fluorescent vocal harmony.

As we brace ourselves for the chillier months ahead, Delta Sleep’s joyous vibes wrap around the crowd like summer’s final embrace.