With all due respect, to some wonderful bands such as Skillet, PETRA and Switchfoot there never has been a band that has so completely combined worship with the element of rock music as Delirious? Led by vocalist Martin Smith the British band proves once again proves why they are the best with their performance on the album Now Is The Time: Live At Willow Creek, Chicago, U.S.A.

The CD is comprised of some of the greatest hits ever recorded by the band and some of the greatest worship anthems ever written.

It is the character of the men behind the music that makes their music so powerful. The members of Delirious? are authentic and live the message they proclaim. Earlier this year some wag named Joe Montague wrote, “Despite being one of the world’s premier rock and worship bands, England’s Delirious? has remained untainted by the hype that sometimes surrounds their concerts.” That is what is most important for you to know about these men because it informs their music.

During an interview with drummer, Stew Smith late last year I was amazed to learn that the band still leads worship in the church they attend located in a tiny hamlet in England. My respect for the members of Delirious? grew even more during a brief encounter with lead vocalist Martin Smith prior to a concert in Toronto last spring. Smith is completely without airs and very genuine.

“Solid Rock” is British music at its best. Fans of The Smiths and David Bowie will find “Solid Rock” musically shares the same colors. The only artist we have in North America who comes close to dipping his vocal brush in the same palette is Kevin Max who may be the most underappreciated artist in America.

Songs such as “Solid Rock” with its megaphone-coddled vocals have become the worship anthems for youth worldwide. For twenty-three years Delirious? has proved that Christian artists can indeed be innovators and reinvent music. I hope the talking heads at some of the labels are reading this review. Slick packaging and formula writing lack substance and are no more than cheap “knock offs”. Creating outstanding music that stretches the boundaries and embraces equally creative lyrics that speak about the relevancy of Christ – now that is great music! Delirious? has never been content to be like all the other kids on the block. They continue to find new canvasses and new color combinations. The band creates fantastic murals of real life.

Delirious? has never just been a bunch of rockers. They are much more than that as the beautiful song “Take Off My Shoes” demonstrates. Smith makes this a love song to the Lord, “Hold me, blow all the pride from my bones/With your fire/Hold me, breathe on this heart made of stone/Keep it pure/Hold me, savior of heaven and earth/King forever/Hold me, love of my life lead me on/Through the fire, lead me on.”

My all time favorite worship song “Majesty (Here I Am) follows “Take Off My Shoes”. “Majesty” has become a standard when it comes to worship songs. The song is a modern day hymn that is just as powerful and as meaningful as the great hymns sung by your parents when you were growing up.

Just as meaningful and beautiful is the thirteenth track, “Our God Reigns”. With some awesome note bending, guitarist Stu Garrard demonstrates why the electric guitar clearly has a place in worship music. Okay, I admit that was a shot at those who still decry the use of instruments in worship and in particular the electric guitar.

If you have never heard “At This Time”, “Paint The Town Red” or “Rain Down” then the album is worth you bellying up to the cash register or your digital store with your credit card.

Now that you are completely sold on running out and buying the CD I will let you know that it comes with a companion DVD of the concert. How much better can it get? Now Is The Time: Live At Willow Creek, Chicago, U.S.A. is probably the greatest live album ever recorded by Christian artists and one of the best live albums of all time including the general market. Live albums are notoriously difficult to record while preserving technical excellence and yet this disc remains unblemished. What makes this feat even more astounding is the fact that virtually all of the recording, lighting and camera work was done by volunteers from Willow Creek Community Church.

If as you are reading this CD review you are hearing of Delirious? for the first time then do yourself a favor and buy the CD.

Copyright © 2006 Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved. This material may not be redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague. Joe Montague is an internationally published freelance journalist / photographer.

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