Fangirling over Neil Hannon

They say never meet your heroes, because you’ll only be disappointed – I shouldn’t meet them otherwise I’ll just start blathering on at them like an idiot.

I had that opportunity at Rough Trade East for the album launch of The Divine Comedy’s new album, Foreverland, when Neil Hannon was doing a signing session that may have lasted quite a while.

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Before that though, he was in conversation with David Hepworth about the new release, his motivations and why it’s taken six years since Bang Goes the Knighthood. In fairness, he’s been busy – writing a musical (“I hate 90% of musicals”), proms and songs about cricket (“blame Thomas Walsh”).

Then there’s his relationship with Cathy Davey, and Foreverland is, for want of a better phrase, a short album about love. From the metaphors of The Pact, through the celebratory Catherine the Great (“it’s about Cathy… and she’s great”) to the somewhat literal How Can You Leave Me On My Own, the album is a rather personal affair.

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There were plenty of other personal disclosures over the course of the evening – turmeric is good for dogs, Neil’s not a fan of getting super fit before touring (“I don’t know how Mick Jagger does it… he’ll probably live forever”), and he and Cathy are brutally honest about each other’s music.

Speaking of which, we were treated to Catherine the Great (it’s a right earworm), To the Rescue, How Can You Leave Me On My Own (once Neil could remember the key), and The Pact, which was a nice taster for the tour that starts in October, but doesn’t reach London until February.

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I mentioned that it was going to be an early birthday present for me (the gig is the day before) during the album signing, but I was too busy fangirling to be clear, so I may have given the impression it was my birthday now. There wasn’t that much time to clarify as the queue was still stretching to the back of the store, such was the demand for a signed album.

Still, I now have my first 33rd birthday present (six months early) and I’ve actually met Neil Hannon – happy days.

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