Stew Smith Testimonial - The indigo2 London (29 Mar 2008)
Last modified: 29 Mar 2008
Venue: The indigo2 London
Author: Dave Wood
Date: 29 Mar 2008
The hugely impressive 'O2' (formerly known as the Millennium Dome) is definitely, well, huge. Within it is a cozy little music venue known as the Indigo2. A little over 2000 fans had gathered there for a Delirious? concert. Nothing unusual in that really. Except that there was. This was the last time, in the UK at least, that Stew Smith would be sat in his customary position behind the Delirious? drum set. A few months ago when Stew revealed his decision to leave the band, after more than 15 years as its drummer, this day seemed unthinkable. But sadly the time had come. Time to say farewell to a drumming legend.
As the band waited in the wings, the song 'Should I stay or should I go?' played appropriately over a crowd who weren't sure if they should cheer or cry. Sadly the decision had already been made, so all that was left was for Delirious? to do what they do best, for one last time in Stew's company. And that's exactly what they did.
Stew was the first to take his place on stage, his fellow band mates respectfully stepping back to allow him to take the lions share of the applause. When the remaining four did appear from the shadows, their faces were obscured with tights pulled down over their heads. It was as if they wanted to remain anonymous, leaving the focus on their friend and brother. Stew Smith, The Testimonial, had begun.
With an extended drum intro, old favourite Metamorphis roared out like a storm waiting to be unleashed. Fittingly for a song that first appeared on the Mezzamorphis album, Stu had resurrected his Mezza Tour outfit, a black kilt, at the request of Stew. Jon had also obliged Stew's request to bring back his orange jump suit. As Martin sang the line 'My cynical clothing, will fall from me', the face masks were removed and semi-normal service was resumed.
God Is Smiling quickly turned into a sing along fest for the eager crowd and Now Is The Time kept the pace going. Stare The Monster Down, with its high chorus and dark verses came next, and Stu's distorted vocal bridge buzzed around the arena. The megaphone song, as it should be known, trotted along as Delirious? sung about the Solid Rock.
After a brief few words about the 'Cutting Edge days' and Stew's contribution all those years ago, it was time for one of the earliest, and best known, Delirious? songs to get an airing. Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble saw Stew belting his drum kit louder than ever. This was one man determined to go out with a bang.
New song Kingdom Of Comfort started slowly before leaping out of the shadows with another crashing drum sequence. Next Martin explained that one of Stew's current favourite songs was All God's Children. The band played it beautifully before Martin recalled an amusing story about Stew, involving Chris Tomlin's toothbrush and a toilet. "That's the kind of guy Stew is" joked Martin.
Somewhat more reverent than Martin's story, the incredible How Sweet The Name came next. Martin sang while Tim played, and the rest of the band stood quietly at the side of stage. Stew sat at his drums, head bowed in awe, before suddenly Stu's guitar screeched to life like a bolt of lightning hitting the stage, and the song erupted.
A run of faster songs came next, as first Rain Down then Give What You've Got and Paint The Town Red had the crowd's fitness levels tested to the extreme. There was a chance to calm down as the ever worshipful Majesty soothed hearts followed by My Soul Sings which uplifted minds.
As the band left the stage, Stew's drum kit was rolled from it's usual position at the back of the stage to take pride of place at the front center of stage. This encore was going to be a tribute to the man of the moment. Delirious? had lined up a three song finale to showcase the best of Stew's ability. First it was Break The Silence, as Stew's arms blurred into a mix of fluid movements as he worked his drums and cymbals to the max. The enormously poignant History Maker was the obvious choice next. As the song came to an end, Stew was handed a microphone and from his position at the drums he gave a farewell speech, praising the fans and his fellow band mates, and doing well to keep his emotions and tears under wraps.
Stew's wife and daughters joined him on stage as Delirious? geared up for a surprise leaving present. Jon rolled onto stage on a classic blue scooter motorbike to Stew's obvious amazement and sheer delight. There was time for just one final song, and what better way to end Stew's farewell concert than Investigate. An incredible and emotional night came to an end, as did an era. Delirious? will continue, but for Stew it was time to move on. Memories of the night will live on forever.