There were some pleasant surprises, some anticipated hits, and a few mediocre points, but overall it was a solid concert by Damien Rice and his supporting cast on Tuesday night. The opening rendition of Me, My Yoke + I was very Thom Yorke rock starish, with plenty of extra distortion, smoke, shadows on a front screen and lots of yelling. While it certainly helped get me engaged in the mid-week concert it was not a strong musical opening. Rice then slipped into the much more enjoyable 9 Crimes, lead song from his latest album. Here we began to find out what Rice’s songs would be like without the incredibly talented Lisa Hannigan. I found myself longing for Hannigan in two or three spots throughout the concert, but certainly not because Rice isn’t up to the task, rather because she has such a wonderful voice and together they achieve more. In the end he did a great job of carrying the singing load and in some ways brought a refreshing new flavour to the music. I was particularly impressed with his vocal abilities during Elephant.
Unfortunately it took the band and crew a few songs to get the sound right following the opening distortion fest, but once the levels were all worked out the strength of Rice’s supporting cast shown through. Things seemed to be going quite right for my favourites of the night, Volcano and an encore performance of Blower’s Daughter. Admittedly I could have done without a mid-set solo song by cellist Vyvienne Long and gone for another Rice song like Amie, or Older Chests. Rice’s general demeanour and interaction with the audience was great though. I was a little worried, having heard he can be cranky at times, but he entertained. In fact, when asked from the audience of his picture could be taken, he orchestrated a mass coordinated effort and had everyone take a picture at the same time, which was good for a few laughs. Overall, it was a solid concert – hard to believe, but my first since returning – and I’m very glad to have seen someone who doesn’t get around to these parts too often.
Possible Setlist (a few errors are likely).