Damien Rice at the London Palladium
It took seven years of religious patience to see Damien Rice again on a stage in London. The Irish songwriter, who rose to fame internationally with his debut album O back in 2002, is known for his radical approach to the music scene: he is independent to the core, releasing records and embarking on tours only when and how he thinks fit.
“Sometimes you have to step away from what you love in order to learn how to love it again,” he said to justify his long absence when he presented his new album My Favourite Faded Fantasy back in September.
Now the artist stands in the dark of the London Palladium stage, holding his acoustic guitar, with candle-like bulbs casting a feeble light on the scene. Sometimes confessional, sometimes devilish, Rice’s show is the most intimate experience you can get in a three-tier, 2000-seat theatre.
His set begins with The Professor & La Fille Danse, the most acclaimed of his b-sides; folkie and ironic, it sets the mood for a concert that is personal, heartfelt and honest.
There is still a tense look on the singer’s face four songs down the setlist – including the enchanting 9 Crimes, one of those suffering the most from the departure of Lisa Hannigan – and he still hasn’t talked to his audience.
“I didn’t go anywhere, I still brush my teeth every morning… not every morning,” he says to break the ice.
“Some friends hold you like a balloon; I wanted to be let go but I didn’t know how to say it, so I wrote a song. This friend, a real pain in the arse, is my biggest critic, so I went to him and looked at him right in the eyes. I looked in the mirror“ is how he introduces Older Chests, now with a note of relief in his voice.
There isn’t a single second in the entire performance that he isn’t giving everything he has, viscerally. A bottomless pit of talent, the artist strums the guitar so intensely that every rendition is as deep as his vocals.
The highlights of the set are the immortal The Blower’s Daughter and Volcano, during which Rice divides the audience into three sections, each one singing a different vocal track during the song’s finale – it results in an unexpectedly perfect choir causing a collective goose-bump moment.
But there is also a real choir (London City Voices) for the set closer, Trusty and True: sung completely unplugged, it’s an epic and inspiring conclusion to the beginning of a great comeback.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information about Damien Rice visit here.
Watch the video for I Don’t Want to Change You here: