WORDS AND IMAGES BY WARREN MILLAR
‘Neil Hannon looking super cool in a black suit white shirt and thin wool black tie and sunglasses holding a Bloody Mary which he sipped out of. It’s hard to describe just how bloody cool he looked’
The Divine Comedy brought their Greatest Hits tour to Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall bringing the brilliance of Neil Hannon’s songwriting to a venue suited to his musical talents and Divine Comedy’s multi layered, fantastic form of chamber pop.
Which other songwriter could come up with (what has to be for me) the best lyrics from a song ever.
“On the National Express there’s a jolly hostess
Selling crisps and tea
She’ll provide you with drinks and theatrical winks
For a sky-high fee
Mini-skirts were in style when she danced down the aisle
Back in ’63
But it’s hard to get by when your arse is the size
Of a small country”….. Classic !!
“National Express” is probably their best known song but Hannon’s work is so much more than this and for this reason it’s not surprising that tonight’s show is a sell out.
Support for tonight comes from Brighton 5 piece “Barbara” led by Brothers Henry and John Tydeman.These very likable guys come on stage looking every inch like 70’s early 80’s high school science teachers. Their sound is full of poppy catchiness. The songs come thick and fast and are lapped up by the ever growing audience who end up clapping along to them, something which is hard not to do. John in a recent interview said that his inspirations musically were Divine Comedy, ABBA and ELO and this rings true in their songs. If you like tight poppy, very English and ever so slightly eccentric dance/clap along tunes catch these guys on their own tour soon. Very enjoyable and a perfect match for what was about to come.
As the house lights go down and over the P.A. we hear Bert Bacharach’s “South American Getaway” from “Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid” sound track. I honestly can’t think of any other tune that Divine Comedy could come on stage to that would sound better, an inspirational choice of “Walk On Music” Brilliant !
After the band have took their places on walks Neil Hannon looking super cool in a black suit white shirt and thin wool black tie and sunglasses holding a red cocktail drink which he sipped out of and placed on a table with a vase of flowers on next to his mike stand. It’s hard to describe just how bloody cool he looked.
They went straight into “Absent Friends” quite poignant given the times we have just been through and are going through now. After the first song Hannon tells us that this is going to be a set of “greatest hits, so don’t be shouting out for other songs” to which someone from the audience shouts “What about the song about the bus?” to which Hannon replies “Maybe we will do that one”
You can tell from his fans that Hannon is much loved and so he should be his genius at song writing about everyday life and supposedly normal things is simply a very rare talent which he has in abundance. These song writers who have this always stand the test of time and Neil Hannon is up there with the very best in my opinion.
The Philharmonic Hall is well suited to every sound and word from Divine Comedy, after all its acoustics are the best around and both Divine Comedy and The Philharmonic are a match made in Musical Heaven.
Myself and fellow “All Music” writer Janet Harding were discussing this gig the night before at another gig we were at (Janet couldn’t make tonight and was so gutted) and we compared Divine Comedy to the best of British Film making that came out of Pinewood Studios, very British, fantastically put together but with a wry sense of humour and technically perfect and this I think sums up what Divine Comedy are about.
The first half of the show ends with the brilliant “Gin Soaked Boy” a top tune that one of the most played on my own personal play list, it’s just sublime listening to Hannon sing this beautiful song live just sends shivers down my back, in fact all over !
After a short break the guys are back and straight into “A Lady Of A Certain Age” before long, in fact it seemed like too short a time we reached the last song and yeah that shout out right at the beginning of their set for “The song about the bus” came to fruition as everyone in the audience came out of their seats and danced, clapped and generally enjoyed one of the classic songs of the last century “National Express” it was a sight to see and a joy to listen to live.
“When you’re sad and feeling blue
With nothing better to do
Don’t just sit there feeling stressed”
…………. Go listen to “The Divine Comedy” Thank you so much for such a wonderful wonderful night in Liverpool.
1/ Absent Friends
2/ At the Indie Disco
3/ Becoming More Like Alfie
4/ Everybody Knows (Except You)
5/ Bad Ambassador
6/ The Best Mistakes
7/ The Certainty of Chance
8/ To the Rescue
9/ Generation Sex
10/ Gin Soaked Boy
11/ A Lady of a Certain Age
12/ Songs of Love
13/Love What You Do
14/ Norman and Norma
15/ Your Daddy’s Car
16/ Our Mutual Friend
17/ How Can You Leave Me on My Own
18/ Something for the Weekend
19/ I Like
20/ National Express
21/ Perfect Lovesong
22/ Tonight We Fly
FOLLOW DIVINE COMEDY
Warren is a live music and festival photographer based in Cheshire and covers gigs/festivals mostly in the North West of England. He has been photographing live music for over 10 years and has covered major artists and festivals