a short site about The Divine Comedy

Belfast Mandela Hall

It's neither funny ha ha nor funny peculiar. Tonight The Divine Comedy bid a final adieu to a downhearted Belfast audience. But tragic though it is, there's no tears being shed. Just one last chance to live it up, wild and extravagant style.

Hamming it up from the off, the band appear onstage to the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme - Neil Hannon looking more like a bearded Monty Burns every day. "We're really fucking up for it!" he laughs and the crowd cheers in agreement.

Not quite a greatest hits set - more a pick'n'mix from all eras - there's plenty for the curious casuals and equally for the hardcore that have travelled far to pay their last respects. 'Bernice' lies playfully alongside 'Supernaturalist'. Love What You Do' goes out to any farmers and 'Perfect Lovesong' is shamelessly and soppily dedicated to the individually name-checked wives and partners of the band. 'Songs Of Love' rises above its TV theme credentials to become an all-hands-in-the-air shared moment.

If Hannon was in the past guilty of a certain aloofness, then tonight it's nowhere to be seen. Instead it's high jinx and childish pranks all the way. A purpose-penned song 'Road Crew' - who else would rhyme "Preston" with "string vests on" - is wheeled out in homage to the roadies. A guitar tech wanders onstage having a shave and later reappears in his (scrupulously white) Y-fronts. The evening ends with the crew turning the tables and pulling the stage apart - the band valiantly attempt to finish 'Tonight We Fly' as their instruments are taken away.

Not a perfect performance - a mid set slump betrayed some weariness in the band - but thankfully not overtly nostalgic either and with enough inspired moments to fuel warm memories of a great band.

Helen Toland
Hot Press 06/12/2001