The Delays singer dealt with his cancer diagnosis with the same positivity that once saw him forge tight bonds with fans – which helped me confront my own illness

Greg Gilbert, frontman with indie band Delays, dies aged 44

It was at a bizarre house party in north London that I first met Delays. A young fan of the band had won a competition to see them live at a venue of her choosing and so she’d chosen her own living room. Guerrilla gigs, ramshackle performances by bands on the hoof in tube stations and up trees, were becoming popular. But rather than strum an acoustic guitar in their socks, Delays made sure the prize winner got the works: huge amps stacked up, a full drum kit, I think maybe even a mixing desk too. Certainly a volume that threatened to bring the ceiling down.

The band wore leather jackets and had the customary terrible haircuts of the period (still not nearly as bad as mine), but they stood apart from their gnarlier, grubbier peers: for a start, they were all sweethearts, completely lacking in guile or fake bravado. They seemed to be all about forging a connection with their fans as strong as anyone’s.

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