The Divine Comedy - set list review. With plenty from the most recent album (much loved by Anna), but very mindful of the delights of his substantial repetoire, this was a great performance.
Die a Virgin: a wonderful opening, perfectly showing of Hannon's continued expert charm and sexy posing.
National Express: Sing-a-long!!! Hannon in full-on wit commentary drew very cheering singing from the audience. It may have been the height of his silly phase, but he has clearly become more at ease with this aspect of himself.
Diva Lady: Like it's companion piece "Lady of A Certain Age", it well proves that Hannon hasn't lost his touch for incisive analysis.
** Between song banter: Hannon tells us how wonderful we are as an audience - "others have told you, but I mean it", promising us "I'm your one and only" which cues sharp intake of breath from some desirious audience members....
He then introduces the next track as a commentary about the "social delapidation of the state"**
Generation Sex: ah, the t-shirt I have for this still makes me smile because only Hannon or Jarvis could get away with its sentiments.
Lady of A Certain Age: bigger than its acoustic version in the hub, this track was no less magnificent for all its extras. As Anna said, this is Hannon's 'The Art Teacher' - a song that brilliantly captures the passing of time, memory and poignant observation of a more vibrant past.
The Light of Day: the finely orchestrated balladeering of the Divine Comedy has long been one of their trademarks and this proved no exception.
** Between song banter: "right, back to the smutty stuff!"**
Something for the Weekend: one of my very favourite bits of innuendo and dark humour, this was wonderfully well received by the enthusiastic crowd.
** Between song banter: "I'm not as young as I used to be!... can't do many of those in a row anymore... I may as well confess, I'm 36. I got a bad back moving some furniture: for fuck's sake! Oh dear....I shouldn't say those sort of things given my next song's about my mother..."**
Mother Dear: as said of the Hub version, it could easily have been too cloyingly sentimental. Instead it feels heart-felt and touching. Probably not a song everyone could love, but I found it lovely.
** Between song banter: reaching to put back on his sunglasses - they were on, then off, then on throughout the night - Hannon jokes that he can "get away with it because you know I don't mean it... except that I do, but I don't, but I do... ah, layers of meaning..."**
When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe: from album Promenade, that this track fits in so well with the other more recent works is testament to the continued talent that Hannon has bought to the Divine Comedy project. It remains one of his most lush tracks.
** Between song banter: As the sound system picks up some random sounds, Hannon joshes that they're "picking up the local taxi channel - sounds like a Radiohead gig" before launching into a song in three parts about economics, religion and revolution.
The Plough: A tart observation of people's rebellion and realisations of the ways of the world, drawing some world-weary singing of the refrain "I'll plough my own furrow, I'll go my own way".
Mastermind: Regeneration was, at the time, not a well-loved move from Hannon as he ditched the suits and went for the ragged indie look, but the songs still had a verve that could not be surpressed. Amazon described "Watching Neil Hannon's career has been a little like witnessing the spirits of Scott Walker and Jonathan King fighting for control of the same mind." Regeneration may have lacked the fluffy, smutty stuff of his previous couple of albums, but it retained his sparkly commentary.
Your Daddy's Car: with glasses off again, we went for a spin in our favourite vehicle.
** Between song banter: striking an inadvertant chord, Hannon quippingly sings "It's been a hard day's night" as the band launch into...**
Becoming More Like Alfie: done in a funked up style, this again had the crowd joyfully singing along.
Lucy: an early favourite of mine, not least for its appropriation of William Wordsworth, from the lovely first proper album Liberation.
Don't Look Down: another early track, this time from Promenade. That these much earlier tracks sit so elegantly alongside his most recent work shows a continuity of form that others must envy.
Tonight We Fly: Awh, man! The rising pace of this track just swells the heart thinking about it! A wonderful end to the main set.
** Between song banter: after a brief exit, the band are cheered on to the stage and three shadowed figures tap at the lefthand keyboard to give us a quick 'Threesome' - something that causes him to remark that he'd "just had a threesome with Andrew and his wife. I never thought I'd say that..!" He then goes on to try and introduce the next song as a love song about a love triangle, inducing the crowd to willfully yell "My Lovely Horse" in request. Gamely refuting this request and chastising the audience that "it's not a love song, it's about a lovely horse" he goes on to introduce...**
Our Mutual Friend: A stand-out track from his previous album, Absent Friends, this is by turns both touching and raw. The performance of this track is especially excellent with the strings really coming into their own.
Sunrise: having paused just briefly to ask how we were doing, the band launch into the aching sweep of this especially autobiographical track. It was a fitting finale.
With a stage of hanging chandelier-esque lighting, a singer on top flirtatious and entertainer form, and a band of excellent musicianship and beautiful strings, it was a perfect end to the first day.