Last night I got the opportunity to go and see one of my all time musical heroes, Neil Hannon, who was play at the Olympia in Dublin. The event was called “The Divine Comedy – An Evening With Neil Hannon”. The man is an absolute legend though hence the post title. Divine Comedy frontman, in fact, he is The Divine Comedy.
To give you an idea of what I think of the man, I remember a few months ago when I was sitting at a Rufus Wainwright gig in the Grand Canal Theatre and Neil Hannon was sitting right in front of me. Being a fello Derry man I felt I had to say something. For the whole gig I sat thinking to myself “What’ll I say? It has to be witty and yet linked to his music to show him that I’m a real fan… I know, I mention Duckworth Lewis Method… I’ll lean over and say – Yeah, Rufus is good, but I’d like to see him try and write a song about cricket.”. Yeah, he’d love that and we’d laugh and chat and maybe even become friends. What actually happened was so far removed and utterly embarrassing. I waited until he got up to leave after the gig, which by this time everyone else in the theatre had already left (he obviously didn’t want to get stuck in the middle of the crowds from fear of being pestered) so I now felt like a right proper stalker. A real pest. “er… Neil?… h.. hi… I just want to shake your hand and say hello…. er..nice to meet you”. He turned around, with confidence and thanked me. I was already shaking and my voice now quivering. What was that line about Duckworth Lewis again? It’s gone.. “Er… maybe we’ll see you in here one day.. ha..”. “Hmm, it’s a bit big I think, I don’t think I could fill it..”. “Ah you could… ha ha.. ” I was laughing nervously and we slowly started to back away from each other heading toward opposite exits…. “Bye now… bye bye”. Wow.. I really messed that up. We never became friends.
So, now that I’ve got that embarrassing story out of the way, on with last night. He had the crowd eating from the palm of his hand. Not only is the guy an amazing song writer and talented musician he has bags of confidence and incredibly funny. As he come onto the stage dressed in his bankers suit and bowler hat with briefcase and pipe he greeted the crowd then went and sat at the piano like a proper maestro. His rested his fingertips on the keys for a moment and then began.. “My lovely, lovely, lovely horse…” The crowd went wild! Utterly brilliant. When he’d finshed he said “I thought I’d get that out of the way, otherwise I’ll be shouted at all night.” Smart move.
He played all the favourites and more. At one point putting his head in his hands and saying “I’ve written too many songs haven’t I?”. As far as we were concerned though, he hadn’t written enough and we were quite happy to sit and listen to them all. Fantasic show and such funny banter. It goes without saying that he received a full house standing ovation and two subsequent ones after each of his encores. The guy is not to be missed.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, I was taking pictures for MCD. Same rule as always, first 3 songs, no flash. This time there was no pit so I had to shoot from the aisles which was failry tricky. It was a seated gig too so moving around was tough as you didn’t want to annoy the crowd or get in their way. The 3 songs were over in a flash and I wasn’t overly happy with my results but they’ll have to do – until next time!
Click on the images or here for more at a higher resolution.
Thanks to MCD as usual for the amazing oppoutunity