Damien Rice - MEN
Live Review

Damien Rice – MEN, Manchester

“All you have got to say is that he was brilliant, amazing. That’s it.” My mother telling me how to write this review, and summing it up quite succinctly.

Two hours of music in one sitting. To be honest that would normally be enough to put me into the cold sweats and run screaming for the hills, but these hours passed in a flicker of the candle light that warmed the stage. Heart straining emotion flooded out from the front, tempered by Rice’s comical stories and littered with his so so real lyrical influences.

And so it begins. It’s an arena but this doesn’t un-err the intimacy as the set is begun by one man and his guitar, with Delicate. Damien pours out his heart and tells you how it is; to all those lovers who have disappointed and broke you in the past – this isn’t misery, this is the naked cleansing of a destroyed soul – self medicated musical healing.

The solo show soon turns into arena power rock as ‘Older Chests’ hits deafening proportions and a sambaed up dance version of ‘Volcano’ echo around the captive audience. The crescendo escalates as the mantra like ‘me, my yoke + i’ is distorted out into the audience. Quiet introspection forgotten, DR is no longer whimpering, he now demands your attention – “My drum, my book, my hand…”

This rising volume level has seemingly buoyed up the scruffy looking scamp and his inter-song stories become more expansive and less mumbled. Merrily pronouncing ‘this one is almost happy’ he launches into second album single ‘Dogs’. Probably the token commercial gesture, its true what he says,

“The more depressed I get the better songs I write and the better I play. I am quite happy tonight. So I’ll f**k off then”

Thankfully he doesn’t get either too happy or f**k off as the soul clenching vibrations of ‘Amie’ draw us back into that warm, soft solace that is the introspective self-involved sadness of your inner thoughts. It’s at the peak of this selfish wallowing that DR brings our attention to the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese democratic hero, with video footage and an unreleased piano solo.

Continuing the rise and fall, elate and devastate tempo of the set, the softly manic ‘I Remember’ is thrust out towards, what we are regrettably sensing, is the culmination of tonight’s guided tour through Damien’s self mutilated life. However, the crowd is invited to release their chaired shackles and come forward to the first acoustic riffs of the much awaited Cannonball, and at the first line

‘There still a little bit of your taste in my mouth’

a shrill and excited female voice rings out

‘I wish’

DR doesn’t miss a beat and I am sure he doesn’t mind, as after the magically still moment of completely unplugged ending to the song and the penultimate rendition of ‘The Blowers Daughter’ (rumours are he had to get the actual girl into the studio to sing it to her) we are treated to a glimpse into the self depreciating humour that underlies the seemingly intense and fraught emotion of his songs. A theatrical rendition of Cheers Darlin is explained as a chance meeting, drunken hopes and dashed abandonment. A staggering Damien Rice leaves the stage and 8000 dreamily smiling audience members usher their way out.

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