Review: The Divine Comedy, The Ritz, 2006

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The Divine Comedy at the Ritz Colin Warhurst (gig: 26/10/06) Just how well is the Ritz suited to the Divine Comedy and Neil Hannon’s dandy stylings? What better place could there be than a ballroom complete with disco balls and balconies to put the latest incarnation of Hannon’s musical entourage?

A true entourage it was too, with seven others sharing the stage with our enthusiastic and charming front man. Indeed, instruments ranging from double bass, violins and acoustic guitars to synths, samplers and a laptop are all part and parcel of The Divine Comedy’s sound.

Leading us on a merry tour of both his greatest hits and personal favourites, we embarked on a musical journey. Inevitably, Generation Sex got the crowd going. Being a little bit exhausted after whipping us up into a frenzy, Hannon fumbled in his jacket pocket for a cigarette in order to “catch his breath”, which had the audience in stitches.

In truth, the highlights came between the music; Hannon jokingly chastising and then apologising to his roadie for not bringing his guitar on stage, forgetting that he had actually just sent the roadie ”to fetch me another pint of Guinness.”

The funniest moment came when a cheeky fan shouted out “My Lovely Horse”, in an attempt to get the now infamous song from Father Ted. Hannon’s instant reply of “Is what? Your lovely horse is what?”, sparked a surreal dialogue between the two, in which we established the fan owned a horse that was “a bit paler in colour than Black Beauty.” Hannon’s reply of “Grey then?” put a humorous but definite end to it.

The music, though, was flawless. We were witnessing a class act and the sheer variety of songs that we heard took us through every emotion from laughter to melancholy. There was even a little bit of The Who’s Pinball Wizard randomly thrown into the mix too.

Of course, there was an encore and the night absolutely had to finish with National Express, a perfect end to a hugely satisfying gig. A hugely refreshing experience that I wouldn’t hesitate to repeat again, I left the venue feeling sure that the next day I’d be bobbing into the shop and spending my hard earned cash to grab a copy of the greatest hits.