I wasn't sure if I had just seen the future of rock and roll. I wasn't sure if the seaside air was doing things with my brain, but as five odd looking people jumped around in front of a packed crowd in a sticky school hall in a sleepy seaside town, I felt great.
If 1992 wasn't used to this sort of thing, 1993 would welcome it with open arms. Soon the five odd looking people who jumped up and down would be setting the church in the UK alight with some of the most innovative, tender and downright vibeey music ever written. But for now, 1992, the story stays with them in Littlehampton, England; paradise for the old, dull torture for the young.
A local church had decided to set something up; an event made up of music and a little bit of talking. Basically, 'Cutting Edge' was church, but church without boundaries. A resident band formed, and after only a few months went into the studio to put down a few of the tracks they had been playing at the event. Within a couple of weeks all 200 copies of 'Cutting Edge One' had been snatched up by eager fans.
In those early days the band (known also as 'Cutting Edge') was made up of Martin, Tim and Stew - with other people standing in on guitars and bass. Stu G joined in 1994, but the line-up was not complete until 1995, when Jon settled down as permanent bass player. But for now our story is set in 1992 when throughout the UK a generation was growing up without much in the way of hope for their future or time for the church.
The band would later become well known for their ability to respond to a particular moment, to capture a mood with the music, and then run with it. You can glimpse this in the last track of 'Cutting Edge One'('Thank You For Saving Me') - where, following the drums, the song sneaks back in at the end - chewing over the chords, words coming from deep within.
Having grown within the first year from an event attracting 75 people to one regularly pulling in crowds of two and three hundred it was clear that Cutting Edge had something special. From early visits I remember the crowds that gathered were made up of people from churches who were doing a fair bit of travelling to get there, as well as local people who knew very little about church, but who were coming along for a good and sweaty gig.
By February 1994, when the boys went into the studio to record tracks for the second mini-album (Cutting Edge 2) the event was attracting over 500 people each month. It started off with 'The Happy Song', capturing those nights of total abandonment - giving it all to the Creator. 'I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever' went on to become a classic throughout UK churches, but it was 'Prophet Song' and 'Coming Back' that pointed to the way forward - anthemic choruses, nodding grooves and inspired musical bits.
By the summer of 1994 the band was increasingly in demand to lead worship at various festivals and events. Hungry for an experience that took them deeper with God, people would crowd around stalls selling the tapes. Many were desperate to take home with them a little bit of the band that sounded more like the stuff they heard on the radio than what they had been brought up to understand as 'Church Music'.
At this time the 'Cutting Edge' band were pioneering something new not only in terms of the music, but also in terms of the way they did it. Until then 'Worship Music' was led by one man on an acoustic guitar, backed by some shadowy figures behind him. Now, although Martin was writing the material, they saw themselves as a band - each member was leading worship, whether it be on drums, keyboards or guitars - and just like the words, the music was important.
'Obsession' soon became a soundtrack to the lives of thousands of fans. But as the band started the tape with the infectious groove of 'Louder Than The Radio' it was moving on to the next stage, taking the music out as far as it would go. On January 1st 1996, the name changed, and Cutting Edge became Delirious?. The journey carried on, the passion and honesty remained the same.
With this attitude the band began turning out songs with greater force. The summer of 1994 saw them unloading of a shipment of new numbers: the fragile tenderness of 'Oh Lead Me' and intimate honesty of 'Find Me In The River' took the band further in the direction pointed to by 'Lord You Have My Heart' and 'Lead Me', while the groove of 'I've Found Jesus' was like a vibed up 'The Happy Song'. However, one song was different - a sonic tidal wave, a spiritual battering ram - THE song of that summer was without a doubt 'Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?'
Fans around have to wait another nine months before the band released these songs on tape, but in the meantime there were plenty of chances to witness them doing their thing live. It was around this time that the offers started pouring in, inviting them all over the country to headline events and gigs. Equally at home in front of people who were used to church as with those who had never even considered God, it was impossible to label them 'evangelistic' or 'worship' - truth was they were all of it and they were none of it, reflecting the very nature of their Creator, and his ability to never be nailed down.
This story is a journey; it may change pace or direction, but it's a journey that is constantly moving. One of those occasions when I thought I saw something change was later on that year. Turning up early at a gig I caught the end of the soundcheck in time for a run through of their latest track. If you want to know what I felt, go to track 5 on CD2 and play it loud...After that, no-one knew where they were heading,. They only knew it would be the wildest ride of their lives.
1995 contained more of the same - although by this time Jon had signed up as full-time bass player. This sealed the band, and together their sound developed. Mr Tim Jupp provided the atmospheric keyboards and vibey Hammond, the cheeky rhythm section came form Stew and Jon, while Stu G turned up his raucous and experimental guitars. All this was topped off by Martin with his listen-twice vocals and guitars.
When 'Cutting Edge Three' was released it sold faster than many had thought possible: 2000 within four weeks. The combination of beats, melody and power brought the boys to the front of the queue, and the UK Christian scene just couldn't get enough.
By late summer 1995 things had become so busy that talk would soon turn to the idea of the band going full- time. This would mean giving up their careers and breaking new ground, leaving plenty of security for an unknown future - this is perhaps the reason for the appearance of the'?' in the Delirious? and Furious? Records names. It was only after a serious car crash involving Martin, his wife Anna and Jon that going full-time was discussed. It didn't take long for the 'how could we do it?' questions to be replaced by 'just imagine if...' answers.
The final mini-album was recorded in the fall of 1995. After the 'Worship from the Terraces' of Cutting Edge Three, Fore was to be a change in pace and feel. The songs are full of an aching to live out a life of devotion to God, a realisation that relationship with God is more important than commercial success. They are songs of honesty and truth, songs that are shadowed by the accident that put on hold the intense busyness of the previous three years.
Delirious? close the Cutting Edge story with two of their most significant tracks yet. Pregnant with energy and power, All I Want Is You and Obsession pioneer the band's travels into lyrical honesty and musical expression. These tracks move the Delirious? story on, smuggling it over the border before anyone has time to stop and ask for papers.
This is not about making money, being famous or signing up for the 'show' business - for Delirious? the process of releasing singles and getting attention in the media is all about belief: that music and culture should not be walked away from; that the most rock 'n' roll way to live is not to blindly follow the crowd, but to believe in something with all your heart; that belief was never meant to be boring. Littlehampton, England. Summer 1997