Delilah Bon @ Deaf Institute, Manchester, 30.09.22
Delilah Bon is bringing her show on the road, and What. A. Show. It. Is. Her fierce, femme-uplifting punk has been lighting sparks and starting fights for what feels like far too long – over a year past the release of her self-titled debut album, almost a year on from her devilishly fun Halloween mixtape, and painfully fresh off the back of latest, most vicious cut Dead Men Don’t Rape, Delilah comes onto the stage at the gorgeous Deaf Institute with an condensed but immensely powerful back catalogue to flex in this first full headline run, and as the glitter ball glints off the pink lights, the room is buzzing.
Delilah Bon is the moniker of Lauren Tate, who doubles as the frontwoman of long-lauded punk gang Hands Off Gretel, so it’d be incredibly easy for her to come out and give her rap and hip-hop-infused tunes the true punk treatment, turn the room into a riot and be done with it. Everyone here would certainly be up for it – but Delilah has much bigger plans for her performance under this guise. Backed up by Tamsin Taylor on the decks and Ruena on bass, and both on sporadic backup dance duty, Delilah treats us to a choreographed feat to go alongside her tunes, adding an extra dimension to the show in the same way she’s constantly adding new dimensions to her sound. So it’s no surprise, really!
Setlist wise, we’d take nothing less than a top-to-bottom run-through of her whole discography, but that’s a lot to choreograph! And credit to her – we come close to getting the lot too. It’s testament to her versatility and talent as a songwriter that she slips effortlessly between rage-fuelled and fiesta, between fun and fearsome – Where My Girls At, Chiquitita get the whole room grooving; Chop Dicks and Devil are explosive and excellent; the whole set of Halloween cuts are captivating and eerie. It’s a party and a showcase of Delilah’s deft-handed writing that she keeps the beat pumping and the energy up as much as she effortlessly guides us through the themes – often challenging – that she’s singing about.
We’ve come here to be challenged, though. As we move into the encore, it becomes evident that although everyone here has loved the liberation to dance and vibe and party in a place that feels completely empowering and safe, we want to rage about the reason we need a safe space to party in the first place. I Don’t Listen To You is ferocious and wonderfully freeing to scream along to, but Dead Men Don’t Rape takes it to another level. Horribly cathartic, absolutely communal and feral, Delilah leads us like a preacher and takes no prisoners in her massive final moment on stage.