Farewell Show inspires a lot of mixed emotions within me. It is, after all, the last concert from Delirious, a true pioneer in modern worship music and arguably the best worship band on the planet. But at least they went out in fine form, consistently delivering great music in a career that nearly spanned two decades (though they didn’t really achieve worldwide success until 1997).
And yet, do we really need another live album from this band? Farewell Show is the seventh concert recording in Delirious’ seventeen year career. I think only Dave Matthews Band has released more live albums in their career, but at least they can (almost) justify an annual concert album with their varied arrangements, set lists, and improvisational jams.
This live recording has no new album to promote and there’s really nothing that hasn’t been heard before on other Delirious concert albums. Seriously, how many times can we listen to “History Maker” performed virtually the same way for the last ten years, right down to Martin Smith’s inspirational spiel in the middle of the song? The greatest weakness of Farewell Show is it has nothing new or creative to offer—in many ways, it’s just another concert.
Having said that, this is obviously a momentous occasion for Delirious. (Unless they reunite someday, of course. Since the members are all great friends, if not related by marriage, I fully expect it.) For fans, it’d be criminal not to release this album. Maybe this band has released a couple live albums too many, but this is not the show to miss out on.
At least it holds up pretty well, despite the predictable song selection and arrangements. Because there’s no new album to focus on, Delirious is free to span their career, offering a song from nearly every album in their illustrious career. (Nothing from Audio Lessonover, aka Touch, widely considered their weakest.)
As usual, Delirious offers killer renditions of their most powerful and atmospheric rock epics, “Obsession” and “Investigate” (which features the return of original drummer Stew Smith). The rest is a hodgepodge of U2-styled rocker s like “Bliss,” “Solid Rock,” and “All This Time” and poignant worship ballads like “Sanctify,” “Our God Reigns,” “Majesty,” and “My Soul Sings.” Things rarely let up, though I’d question the inclusion of weaker songs like “Paint the Town Red” and “Inside Outside” over other classics.
As an encore, in effort to bring everything back to their humble beginnings as a worship band, Delirious closes with seven songs from their earlier Cutting Edge days. Again, this is a mixed bag, as we’ve heard many of these on previous concert albums (especially Live and in the Can) and it’s odd that the signature anthem “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” is reduced to a two-minute cameo. (Couldn’t the band bother with giving the song its due one last time?) Still, it’s nice to hear “Shout to the North,” “Find Me in the River,” and an especially poignant rendition of “Thank You for Saving Me” back in the set-list. And it’s worth noting that these songs have never sounded more polished and seasoned in performance and production on a live album. It really is a great way for Delirious to wrap things up.
Farewell Show is a no-brainer for the diehard fans (you know you wanted to be at this concert) and it’s a solid live representation for the casual fan, with most of the best-known hits included. But it would have been far better if Delirious had put more effort into their final show and packed their set with more music for one final blowout. The two CDs amount to 110 minutes, leaving off one other medley captured on the DVD—couldn’t they have revisited a few more favorites from Glo and Mezzamorphis? Maybe some medleys that quickly reminisce over their impressive catalog?
The scope and quality make Farewell Show one of Delirious’ best live albums—a powerful testament to the band’s skillful playing, Brit rock appeal, and worshipful focus. But it ultimately falls short of more interesting live recordings like Access:D and Now Is the Time. In short, despite all of the highpoints during their final performance, this isn’t the “event concert” that it could have been. As the saying goes, it’s so hard to say goodbye.
Standouts:“Obsession,” “Investigate,” “Thank You for Saving Me”