Monday, 12 October 2015

Delta Goodrem visited the UK last week and dreams came true

Something rather incredible happened to UK fans of Delta Goodrem last week. The Australian star came to perform and promote in the country for the first time in more than a decade, her last officially released single here being the Brian McFadden collaboration Almost Here in 2005.

Since then, as far as UK non-followers of the star are concerned, she disappeared. But as Delta obsessives well know (and yes, I'm proudly part of this category – she's been my favourite artist since I first heard Born To Try back in 2003), the singer has released two albums since her last appearance in the UK, the 2007 LP Delta and 2012's Children Of The Universe. She has also punctuated these years with a number of non-album singles in Australia, including Together We Are One in 2006 and the Avicii-esque Heart Hypnotic in 2013.

Just over a week ago the near unthinkable happened – it was announced that Delta was set to promote her recent Aussie No.1 single Wings in the UK. The first announced gig was at the G-A-Y club night in London on Saturday night. But during the preceding week Delta popped up everywhere from Lorraine to Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two.

It was fantastic to see her back on UK TV and heart-warming to see that media outlets such as the BBC and ITV still had enough goodwill for Delta to gift her such high profile slots. Then again, it's easy to forget 12 years on that Innocent Eyes sold close to one million copies in this country.

On Tuesday last week it was announced that Delta was to perform a secret show somewhere in London, with entry accessible only via a Twitter competition that required users to Tweet their favourite lyric from Wings. I entered, hoped and prayed and then on Wednesday night came the incredible news that I'd been lucky enough to secure entry to the show.

I turned up to a Kensington-based art gallery called The Dot Project at 6.30pm on Thursday and around 30 other Delta fans were already waiting. I met and chatted to a few of them and they were all universally lovely and we shared our experiences. An hour later we were allowed in and the organising company, The Cantine Co, had put on a fantastic display of snacks and drinks.

The small gallery (with art temporarily removed from the walls!) filled with much anticipation and Delta came to the makeshift stage at around 8pm. It was surreal but amazing to be stood 15 feet behind her as she beautifully sang a range of hits in a stripped back style, some in full and others as part of a medley.

The set included the classics, and UK hits, Born To Try, Lost Without You, Innocent Eyes and Almost Here and fan favourites (and Australian hits) In This Life, Sitting On Top Of The World and Believe Again. She also sang the gorgeous You And You Alone, which premiered in the summer, and finished with the incredible Wings.

Delta's voice was on top form, sounding purer, better and more versatile live than even I could have imagined. Her warmth and love for the crowd was clearly evident and her sass was unrivalled, particularly during a brilliantly confident performance of Not Me, Not I. She looked and sounded every inch a superstar.

As if all this wasn't already enough, five minutes after she finished her performance Delta returned to the room to meet and greet every single person individually. And I can happily report that she is one of the most genuine, down to earth and friendly celebrities I've yet to meet.

Delta spent a little while with each fan, greeting and hugging them, chatting to them about their experiences, signing CDs and photos and taking selfies. I had a nice chat to her thanking her for making dreams come true by coming to the UK and delivering a fantastic performance and then wished her well for her upcoming gig at G-A-Y.

I was incredibly grateful that she took the time to meet us all individually, eventually leaving for her car just before 10pm. It was also fantastic watching all of the other fans in the room going through the same experience of finally meeting their idol.

A life highlight, then, but there was more to come. Roll on Saturday night and the aforementioned G-A-Y gig rolled around quickly. Perhaps not the typical setting for the average Delta fanatic's Saturday night, the club opened at 10.30pm and most of the fans that had arrived early and rushed to the front of the stage patiently waited through three hours of dance remixes of pop hits (also enjoying some regular clubbers performing some rather unique dance moves in front of them on the stage) until Delta arrived. Many had turned up just after midday to greet Delta on her way into the soundcheck so anticipation was at something of a fever pitch when she arrived at 1.30am.

And what an arrival it was. Delta, who was glamorously dressed and seemed like one of the world's biggest superstars for that moment, launched confidently into Sitting On Top Of The World before performing a range of other hits.

A dance remix of Lost Without You entertained the crowd while the original piano ballad version of Born To Try was as beautiful as ever though felt quite unusual to say the least coming halfway through a hi-NRG club night at close to 2am. Safe to say the many loyal Delta fans in the room were in their element at this point though, and normal service soon resumed for the clubbers.

Delta continued the set with a short mash up of Predictable with Madonna's Hung Up before and also performed 2012 single Dancing With A Broken Heart, during which she invited a fan on to stage to dance with her. The final two performances were my favourites though – indeed two performances that will perhaps go on to rank amongst my all time personal favourites.

When it became clear she was about to sing Believe Again – my third favourite song of all time – I went a little crazy. She had performed part of it at the Thursday gig in a stripped back form but this is a song in which much of the beauty lies in the breathtaking production. And Delta didn't disappoint. 

Believe Again sounded absolutely euphoric in the club setting and as incredible as it has done since the first time I heard it on record around eight years ago to the day. And Delta's voice is sounding better than ever, more mature and somewhat richer than it was in 2003, but still unmistakable.

Naturally Delta then finished with new single Wings, which is absolutely up there with her best and in my opinion her best lead single since Born To Try. It sounded amazing in the club setting and Delta even stood on top of the piano to perform at one point, clearly in her element. 

Wings sounds like a No.1 single – indeed, it already has been in Australia – so I'm keeping everything crossed that any of Radio 1, Capital FM or Heart realise its potential and playlist it. Radio 2 seems a little more likely than the others but time will tell if any of the major stations decide to support the song, which to my ears is as fresh and contemporary as anything else in the top ten right now.

And that would be fantastic, because affection for Delta Goodrem in the UK still exists, 12 years after we all first heard of her as Nina Tucker in Neighbours. A hit single – even a small one – may encourage Delta to make another of these all too rare visits to our shores, and maybe even put on a small tour and a full show.

We can continue to dream but, even if she doesn't, for Delta fans in the UK the last week could have hardly been more perfect. A series of life enhancing moments that I never dared dream I would have the chance to see, so many thanks and all props to Delta Goodrem and everyone that made the last week happen. We hope to see you back here very soon.

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