A Special Evening with The Divine Comedy.
That was the title of the concert, and it was a special one indeed. Neil Hannon, the frontman of the Irish band The Divine Comedy, played solo behind his piano (and sometimes his guitar) that Monday evening.
Cathy Davey was the opening act that evening. She played some songs acoustically with her guitar and tambourine bells tied on her thigh.
At around nine, Neil entered the stage. Wearing a grey suit and a bowler hat, he came with a suitcase in one hand. He bowed to the crowd before finally settling on his piano stool and opened his performance with “Down on the Street Below” from “Bang Goes the Knighthood”.
I used to think that Neil Hannon was a very serious person, judging from his looks on some of the videos, but he was actually a friendly funny musician!
After the first song he made some opening remarks, “Thank you for coming to my show. In the following hour I will play some songs, well maybe it would be long and a bit boring, but that’s what the bars are for.” 😀
Also after playing the nice and happy (and also my all time favourite song from The Divine Comedy) “The Pop Singer’s Fear of the Pollen Count”, he then made a comment about some of their old songs, “That was an old song from us. I have some old songs,
which I will not play.” said Neil with a giggle.
Well there were some old hits being played that evening, like “Becoming More Like Alfie” and “Song of Love” from “Casanova”, and a handful of songs from the very classics “Promenade” album: “Geronimo”, “The Summerhouse”, and “Tonight We Fly”. Most of the crowd who were around 30ish or late 20s were really excited with the classics, including me.
Even though he didn’t play “Gin Soaked Boy” and “Something for the Weekend”, but I say (how about a little kiss? — sorry I was carried away with something for the weekend, haha) it was the best concert I had ever gone to. Well, uhm, after Pet Shop Boys :p
The highlight of the performance was when he played “At The Indie Disco”. Before he started playing the piano, he asked the audience to clap their hands to the rhythm of the song. And the result was mesmerising. Many times I had seen audience clapping to the music, but not as the music itself. On the last verse Neil asked to change the handclapping to fingersnapping. Really nice.
He suddenly forgot the beginning of the third bridge, and he kept playing the rhythm while trying to remember the next line until someone in the crowd shouted, “BLUE MONDAY!”
And so he continued,
She makes my heart beat the same way
As at the start of Blue Monday
And then he started to tap the microphone to the synth beat of Blue Monday, followed by the oompa-oompa part on the piano.
The 80s nostalgia didn’t end there. After the indie disco, he played The Human League’s biggest 80s hit “Don’t You Want Me”. And he even tried to sing in a female vocal range to sound like Susan Ann Suley.
Anyway, since the tour was a part of him promoting the latest album “Bang Goes the Knighthood”, there was also a quite large portion of the album being played that evening. There were my two favourites “Assume the Perpendicular” and “Have You Ever Been in Love?”, and then there were also “I Like” and “Can You Stand Upon One Leg”.
The later was played at the encore, and before he played it he asked the audience to stand on one leg 😀
He also asked one of the audience to come on to the stage and tell a joke, right after the following:
Tell me can you tell a funny joke
One that makes you laugh out loud
One that makes the milk come out your nose
If you know a funny joke then tell it now…
One of his biggest fan (Well I think he was the biggest The Divine Comedy’s Dutch fan) went forward and told a short joke. Anyway, he (the fan) also gave Neil a t-shirt at the end of the last song before the encore. He himself wore a black t-shirt saying “The last time Neil Hannon was in Amsterdam”, with the picture of Neil at a young age, like 20ish or something.
It seemed that it had been a long time ago since The Divine Comedy performed in the Netherlands.
The nicest thing about the concert was that it had a really nice ‘conversation’ between Neil and the audience. Not only that he was funny and made some word jokes, but also he often asked the crowd to participate. The Indie Disco was one nice example. During the interlude of “Song of Love”, the crowd even voluntarily whistled (or hummed?) to the song, and Neil said, “you’re doing great, keep going, I will just have a rest now”, and he closed his eyes while keep playing the guitar.
Also during “National Express”, everybody sang,
National Express was the very last song of the concert. The crowd was expecting for another encore, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.
Still it was a warm and cozy night. I heart Neil Hannon.