So I went to see him play last night as a birthday present from Peach. I had great seats, described as 'restricted view' but actually, they were above the side of the stage so I could see all the technical things that were going on - the sort of thing that makes the secret geek in me very happy. He came on, dressed all in white linen (in preparation for our after-show matrimonials, I assumed) and watched his vulnerable little back as he meandered around meaningfully on a grand piano before morphing it into a beautiful version of 9 Crimes. This began a whole section of some of his most beautiful, self-pitying, melancholic misery and I wondered if life could get any better than this. Then I heard a strange sound - dischordant, incongruous...a...ring-tone? The poor person must be so embarrassed to have left their phone on! Oh..they can't be, they're not...ANSWERING THIER PHONE? They can't be actually having a CONVERSATION?? Damien is singing his beautiful heart out about delicate looks and 'hurting parts of her garden' (I'm not sure what that means, but I think it's probably rude, and he's the only man who can make filthy things sound tragic. Reason #42203 why he is wonderful) and I am forced to listen to someone say in Trigger Happy TV style "I'm at the concert.....yeah....ooooh it sounds lovely dunn'it.....yeah I wouldn't mind 'avin 'im at the end of my bed *gaffaw*" I turned to her and said "Excuse me, do you think you could have your conversation later? I've paid for this ticket to hear Damien Rice, not to listen to your running commentary." In my head. In reality I glared at her with my best withering look, which 5 people down in a dark auditorium, did not seem to be having much effect on her. I remained silent and physically maimed her in my head.
The highlight of the night was when he played Coconut Skins, with a long mad solo section at the end using lots of pedals (which I gleefully observed from my restricted view) even though it was an acoustic guitar, and ran it smoothly into one of my favourites, Woman Like A Man.
After this dirty acousitc noise-fest, he moved back into some of his slower ones (lets face it, most of them are) and another disturbing sound assaulted my ear, this time from my right. It began with an a-rhythmic tapping. The man next to me suddenly felt he wanted to express his enjoyment of the show by demonstrating his entire lack of musicality by TAPPING in an indescribably irritating way, with no apparent reference to the beat. I had to sit on my hands to prevent myself from restraining him physically. Unfortunately this was not the entire scope of his lack of talent. He also chose to share with me the fact that he was utterly tone deaf AND, joy of joys, he knew all the words to both albums AND the B sides! I turned to him and said "I'm sorry, would you mind not singing? It's just it's quite loud and I can't hear Damien properly. Thanks." In my head. In reality I sat siliently while imagining punching him in the face, cutting his hands off and stuffing dirty rags into his noise-emitting mouth while revealing the more unsavoury depths of my vocabulary. These feelings reached thier climax when Damien unplugged his guitar and sang Cannonball with no microphone into the audience. We needed to be so quiet to hear this raw and beautiful sound, so the wailing in my right ear, with the lyrics just SLIGHTLY and MADDENINGLY wrong in places, made me so enraged I actually thought my eyes might bleed.
Despite all of this, and my discovery that my black and sinful heart means that I would rather indulge my anger and imagine murder than actually draw attention to myself (*shame*), it was still one of the most amazing gigs I've ever been to. Every song was done in such a fresh way - different from the recordings but still retaining everything that makes you love the song. Even the lighting was perfect. Thank you Peach.