My Shop (work in progress!)

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Damien Rice

I then went on to watch the beautiful Damien Rice make equally beautiful music. I really must insist that you watch this too. OK so I have already potentially taken an hour of your life if you watched all of the Jools Holland show I linked in my previous post, so why should you spend another hour watching this video? Well I'll tell you...

I have been lucky enough to see Damien live twice. Both were gigs were in the same venue in Liverpool. The venue was small and intimate, perfectly suited to Damien's style of performance. Both gigs were brilliant but were completely different.

Gig 1
This venue was seated and my then boyfriend Tim and I managed to get seats on the second row. The support act was brilliant, a young lady called Elisa who sang alone, accompanying herself only on acoustic guitar. Her voice was absolutely amazing and brought me to tears a couple of times. Don't bother with her albums though, I bought one and was very disappointed to find it was nothing like her live performance and had gone all europop and totally over-produced.
O had come out in 2002 and still not many people had heard of Damien Rice. There can't have been more than about 200 people in the auditorium. On this night Damien played alone without the band members that helped flesh out his songs on the album. Far from it sounding dull and weak, it was vibrant and exciting. Damien uses lots of pedals and effects on his guitar and voice, even layering them all up to create a wall of sound that even Phil Spector would be envious of.
He was chatty, playful and knocked the audience's socks off! He managed to weave Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" into one of his songs and did the same with Radiohead's "Creep". I think he even threw in a little Jeff Buckley.
Gig 2
A hell of a lot has changed since the last gig. I have split up with Tim and was hoping to go to the concert with a rather handsome pHD student that I'd become friends with. Alas over the summer he decided not to go back to uni and coming all the way from south Wales was too much of a trek. Luckily one of my flatmates buys the ticket from me and borrows my copy of O so she can get to know his music.
Things are different at the concert too - it's the same venue but this time we're standing. People are still milling around while the support act is on so we manage to get near the front. This time Damien is accompanied by his band but minus his co singer Lisa as she is full of cold. She manages to put in an appearance later on though much to the delight of the crowd. People know who Damien Rice is now, he gets played on the radio and there are adverts for his album on the TV. People know the words to his songs and sing along.
In the video linked above you can see that they have lots of candles and joss sticks on stage, and it was the same at our gig. Damien asks for the lights to be turned down just before they play "Cold Water". As the performance is being recorded they can't turn down the lights completely. But imagine what it would be like to be at a concert with a few hundred people and it is completely black apart from the glow of a few candles and joss sticks, which is what it was like at the concert I was at. It was so atmospheric and made the hairs stand up on the end of my neck. Then at the climax of the song, when the drums kick in, they whacked all the lights up again. It was such an overwhelming moment.
Watching this gig online didn't compare to actually being there as I didn't get to fight with my friend as to which one of us Damien was looking at! But it did capture some of the energy and vibrancy of his performance, which sometimes doesn't come across in a recording.
So if you think that his music is wishy washy coffee shop music please watch this video and see how wrong you are. The man is inventive and creative, makes an acoustic guitar makes sounds that a lot of electric guitar players would give they plectrums to be able to make, and has the voice of an angel. Playing for an audience is where his music really comes alive. I was sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks with the beauty of it. Unfortunately I have yet to read this book which I bought last weekend so I can't tell you why I did that.

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