Playing their third gig in Ireland and only their fourth in total since the release of their debut album The Delines proved their collective prowess. Damnations singer Amy Boone was front and centre at the microphone showing why Willy Vlautin wanted to write songs for her to sing. She is a singer who delivers the songs with a clear diction and a soulful delivery. Southern country soul is a prime influence on the band's approach to their music.This was a gig that didn't rely on volume and attack to get the songs across something that marked it as a different direction to some of the more forceful Richmond Fontaine gigs. They, naturally, drew extensively from the album Colfax as the main material source but also added some interesting additional song choices such as the country classic There Stands The Glass which was recorded by Webb Pierce amongst others. They also included a song from the Deloreans that centered around the drinking a bottle of wine a day. Bassist Freddy Trujillo stepped up to the plate to sing a self-written tribute to Tex-Mex star Freddie Fender and Randy Newman's Sandman's Coming was the first encore.
It was played as a solo performance by Boone seated at the piano before the band rejoined her for an additional three song encore. Earlier their keyboard player Cory Gray has conjured a sound that drew from the same sources as Calexico with his atmospheric trumpet playing. Sitting solid at the back and pushing everything along was Richmond Fontaine band mate and Colfax co-producer Sean Oldham.
Sartorially the male members wore suits, something that Boone mentioned at the start of the show. Which brought Vlautin's response that he normally only wore suits for weddings and funerals and that most of the weddings he attended were like funerals. A moment of humour amid a set of songs that often deal with the darker elements that life can offer. All the original songs again highlight Vlautin's skill as a writer who delivers these tales as matter of fact vignettes much as he does with his Richmond Fontaine material but here they are give new character by Boone who adds a positive dignity to the songs with the depth of her voice. It has a warmth and vitality that contrasts, at times, with the subject matter.
This was a band at ease with themselves and it allowed Willy Vlautin take the role of sideman so that he was able to concentrate on playing his left-handed SG. He is able to enjoy the sideman role and has always relished being a part of a band setting. With so few gigs under their belt there's no doubt that things will only get better. But then they are all very experienced players who bring their collective abilities and experience to the Delines.
Mention was made too of Whelan's multi-wallpapered Green Room which they described as the nicest they'd encountered. They also seemed to enjoy what was going on in the packed venue. Something that was reciprocated by the audience too. It will be interesting to see what happens next for the band as a recording and onstage collaboration.
Review by Stephen Rapid Photography by Ronnie Norton