An evening of inspiring neo-psychedelia and prog was on the cards with the pairing of California’s Morgan Delt and Canterbury’s Syd Arthur.

After the paradoxically bright opener, ‘Hometown Blues’, Syd Arthur’s set was firmly centred on their most recent album, ‘Apricity’, the band playing tracks like ‘No Peace’, ‘Into Eternity’ and the anthemic ‘Sun Rays’ with great zest
and fluency. Liam and Joel Magill (guitar/vocals and bass respectively) proved efficient, unshowy players. The more striking contributions came from the third brother, drummer Josh, who slipped in underneath some skilfully tricky time-keeping that never lost time, while Raven Bush, hair exploding like a young Einstein’s over his keyboard, added intelligent and imaginative textures.

The instrumental ‘Singularity’ did stretch out to the extent that it began to remind you why progressive music became a byword for self-indulgence, but this was a rare blot on an otherwise enjoyable, well-crafted performance.

Morgan Delt is the sole creator of two fine neo-psych albums. I confess it was with some misgivings that I waited to hear how such richness would be presented live. In the event, there was no real attempt to reproduce these outstanding examples of the studio as instrument. Instead, Delt’s four-piece band simply went for stripped-down versions of the originals. This approach worked especially well on ‘Chakra Sharks’, bringing out even more its stampeding force, as also the restrained ‘System of 1000 Lies’, where the sparseness of the backing allowed its elegant guitar motif to rapturously emerge.

The response of the audience, which had enthusiastically received Syd Arthur from the off, grew warmer as the set went on, although it was clear that for many Delt’s songs were unfamiliar. Nonetheless, although their basic quality still came across, for the most part they didn’t have the staggering, seductive impact of his albums. Hopefully many present will yet have been intrigued enough to investigate further, as they already seemed to have (rightly) done in Syd Arthur’s case.

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