a short site about The Divine Comedy

French version

We have found the earliest Divine Comedy live recording!

(and it doesn’t sound like you’d expect…)

Thanks to the friends at Fanning Sessions we have found and restored what is probably the earliest Divine Comedy live recording… Not really a live performance in front of an audience; but a live session for Dave Fanning recorded back in 1990.

At that time the band was still a three-piece line-up featuring Neil Hannon on vocal and guitars, John McCullagh on bass and Kevin Traynor on drums. The band formed back in 1989 and quickly get signed to Setanta Records which released the album Fanfare For The Comic Muse in 1990. This session was probably recorded soon after, but also when the band was already getting their sound evolving into something more powerful.

The session features three songs from the Fanfare album. ‘Bleak Landscape’ and ‘Indian Rain’ are quite similar to the album versions, and features interesting harmonies/backing vocals. ‘The Rise And Fall’ is actually a totally different version from the album, and ‘Timewatch’ was, for that time, a new song. Both were released within the Timewatch EP in 1991, which was probably being recorded at the same time.

(Open player in new window)

Although Fanfare was categorised as ‘jangle pop’ (let’s say R.E.M.-ish), here the sound is something more raw and brutal, as the shoegaze scene was emerging at the time.

While Neil Hannon stated that at the time the band was quite loose on stage, the recording testify what was said by those who heard the band at the time, like in the Sunny Days fanzine “no doubt they’ll go down a storm as they’re one of the most talented bands to come out of the fold in a long time”.


Although that was the first session the band recorded for Dave Fanning, this wasn’t the very first time Neil Hannon encountered the famous Irish DJ. Indeed, already back in 1989, the band who had just recorded their first studio demo, caught up the attention of a few DJs who broadcast some tracks on air; and then Neil Hannon was also interviewed at the time by Dave Fanning. That interview is still to be found.

As for the earliest proper live recording of Neil Hannon and his band, back in 1986 his band October played at the Clongowes Wood College in Dublin; and, according to records, the performance was filmed, but the document was never seen by anyone. Any clue leading to the original tape would be an amazing move!