If you go to a gig, and there isn’t an accordion, drinks globe and full Napoleonic regalia, have you ever really been to a gig at all? Fortunately, The Divine Comedy at the Palladium included all three, and much more besides – the perfect birthday present to myself.
It’s safe to say that I like DC, and it’s quite fitting that something that Neil said at the album launch for Foreverland was immediately apparent at the concert. During the Q&A session, he explained that putting together a set list isn’t just a case of picking songs and playing them – it requires as much crafting as any album.
That’s why starting with the bombast of Sweden was an amazing way to begin, as it really makes you sit up straight and pay attention. There’s also the element of surprise – it’s an older song, and you’d naturally assume that something from Foreverland would lead. Well, Neil Hannon doesn’t play by your rules, sucker.
I mean, would you rock up dressed as Napoleon? Hat, breeches and all? For the London audience, it was just a bit of fun, but this tour has been going around Europe… fortunately, the passing of a couple of centuries allowed European fans to appreciate the joke.
Although we didn’t start with a new track, four out of the five Foreverland songs were belted out whilst in Napoleonic garb, before a quick costume change to a much more comfortable and typical skinny suit and tie. Add a bowler hat and extremely versatile umbrella, and you’ve got the perfect outfit for songs from the previous album, Bang Goes the Knighthood.
The brolly was cast aside for a little sit-down duet of Funny Peculiar – the final Foreverland track – with Lisa O’Neill, who’d expertly warmed the crowd up ahead of DC rocking up. That was followed, somewhat unusually, by a rendition of Black Beauty, before we were treated to an accordion version of the Ski Sunday theme. As I say, Neil Hannon doesn’t play by your rules.
Your rules probably say that you shouldn’t perform when you’ve got the lurgy – pah! Just drink ‘medicinal’ whisky throughout the gig, compare it to Asterix’s magic potion and then be a little sick in your mouth during one of the songs – it’s fine, it just adds to the show.
And the show certainly built to a crescendo, with the real fan favourites (granted, we like the vast majority of the songs, otherwise why would we be there?) saved for the end so everyone could leave happy. By this stage, the crowd was on its feet and security was looking a little nervous, but they needn’t have – you’d struggle to find a more middle class, middle age audience (I was one of the youngest there), so rowdiness was unlikely.
There were profuse apologies for illness throughout the concert and at the conclusion, Neil promised to return when he was fully fit – suffice to say, I’ll be keeping a keen eye out for next time.
How Can You Leave Me on My Own?
The Frog Princess
Catherine the Great
Count Grassi’s Passage Over Piedmont
Your Daddy’s Car
To the Rescue
The Certainty of Chance
The Complete Banker
Bang Goes the Knighthood
Our Mutual Friend
A Lady of a Certain Age
Songs of Love
Something for the Weekend
At the Indie Disco
(Encore) Assume the Perpendicular
(Encore) Tonight We Fly