Most of us face the “where next?” question at some stage in our lives. Musicians, bands in particular, face this question with frequency – sometimes it’s just a minor fork in the road; sometimes it’s a whole new journey. Time for Delorentos to join the party.
Delorentos have spent the last few months touring Ireland acoustically. A band born in a youthful flurry of electric guitar indie pop songs have been exploring their back catalogue with a huge assembly of acoustic instruments and the occasional additional string or horn. They have swapped the drunken noisiness of Whelan’s for the reverential hush of the National Concert hall to great effect, and have been widely praised along the way. Rightly so – the shows at NCH and the smaller Set Theatre in Kilkenny were mesmerising.
What they have done in these shows is strip down their craft to the simplicity of tune and lyrics, and revealed what those of us who have paid them interest over the years have always known – there’s some mighty fine work going on here. Take their ultimate pop “hit” S.E.C.R.E.T – the second verse starts “Let’s go back to the start again, I’ll follow through and capture your heart” or in the more recent Forget the Numbers “It’s like a movie scene, where everybody learns the parts but never what they mean”. Putting great lyrics into “serious” songs is one thing, sneaking them into pop songs takes it on to a whole new level.
This deep immersion into a new way of expressing themselves leaves them, and by extension those of us who follow them, at a crossroads. Where do they go from here?
Some bands have found these side ventures destructive, but there is also hope. Memorably (for me) the musical self-destruct button that is The Fall spent a summer in the late 80’s accompanying a modern ballet, playing every night at the Sadlers Wells Theatre in London – the height of cultural respectability . The discipline this required sharpened the core unit and led them into one of their most accessible, yet still creative periods.
The pressures on Delorentos will be many and varied. Will that elusive shift to mega-stardom ever happen? Surely they deserve their turn on the bigger stage that has embraced Kodaline, Hozier and others (The Script, for heaven’s sake!). This is infuriatingly out of their control, depending on the throw of the dice- the luck of finding your song in the right place at the right time or the whim of some evil corporate entity running our culture. Pick whichever conspiracy theory you most believe in.
What else comes in to play? Will a drummer who has found a voice and a bassist who has displayed virtuosity in playing countless instruments from mandolin to “the odd squeezy wheezy box thing” (some type of accordion on legs!) be happy to revert to traditional rhythm unit limitations? Will life continue to throw up inspiration for writing songs of meaning? Will the catchy tunes keep rolling? Does “growing older and more responsible” dull the intensity required to write and perform with meaning?
Maybe there will be an epiphany – a moment where their sound takes a completely different direction? A move to a funkier beat may be interesting; straying into gangsta rap would be a surprise; let’s all pray they don’t take the well-trodden path of the musically desperate and “find swing”!
Delorentos hard graft over a 10 year journey merits a smooth path to musical brilliance. But if things do start getting rocky, my hope is that they stay with it long enough to recover. Do what R.E.M. did. After a stellar early career R.E.M. had gone through a pretty long, pretty deep slump. It could all have ended so very tamely with “unfulfilled talent” as their lasting legacy. Instead in 2008, they gave themselves a good talking to, got some songs written, spent five nights in the Olympia getting them all together and produced the powerhouse album that is Accelerate that paved the way for an ending that truly left fans “wanting more”.
So I wish the best of futures to Delorentos, with whatever luck they will need along the way. Whatever happens, in the immortal if rather too creepy words of Sting – “I’ll be watching you”!