a short site about The Divine Comedy

Cardiff St. David's Hall

Stunned silence. Nervous, embarrassed silence, in fact 2000 indie kids, Late Show viewers, Vox readers and bog-brush haired, bespectcled couples all stare open-gobbed as a jug-eared, odd-faced little man in a dusty suit and cravat sits down in front of Tori Amos' sacred piano and starts strumming an acoustic guitar. Then a pianist, cellist and violinist join him. The mass thought of "How can I shuffle out of my seat and go out for a pint without looking like an unspeakably Kenny Thomas fan?" is strangely palpable.

But this audience is cannon fodder for a veteran of audacious gesture and maverick ambition like Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, and tonight he's compromised a grand scheme or seven simply to serenade us sans plug, Brian.

And you will understand, eventually. The sedately stomping quasi-pop of "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" settles the old restless bum, but it's the newer, simpler songs and more cloyingly elegant romance of "When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe" and "Geronimo" that turns frowns to rapt attention, despite their occasional lapse into self-parodying young-fogeyisms. Then the comic pomp of "A Drinking Song" and Hannon's irrestistibly overblown, Shakespearean delivery finally win our hearts. There are infinately more facets to the mans genius, of course, but this glimpse of it is effortlessly compelling on it's own.

Johnny Cigarettes
NME 30/04/1994