Damien Rice Live @ The Marquee, Cork 13 July 2015

Hot on the heels of his sold out show with The Frames, Colm Mac Con Iomaire is back at the Marquee just two days later and on opening duties for Damien Rice. Colm is promoting his second solo album at the moment ‘Agus Anois An Aimsir’ or ‘And Now The Weather’ for those of us who may not remember our Cupla Focal from school.

As much as I love Colm’s work with the Frames I find that watching a performance of a solo violinist is not very appealing to me so when after ‘Emer’s Dream’ and ‘A Study In Scarlet’ are finished and Colm welcomes a pianist and guitarist to join him I find my interest once again growing.

Tunes like ‘Blath’, ‘The Finish Line’ and ‘In the Arms of the Angels’ are noticeably livelier than their predecessors. ’Sappho’s Daughter’ which was written to accompany Cork Poet Theo Dorgan’s poem of the same name and ‘Thou Shalt Not Carry Timber’ bring to a close what was in Colm’s own words a ‘mellow’ set. In my own opinion it may be more suited to a smaller venue but none the less a it is very beautiful performance.

‘My Favourite Faded Fantasy’ was the first album to be released by Damien Rice in 8 years and tonight is the first time he has played in Cork in just as long , A fact he acknowledges jokingly by saying “Where were ye Cork?, I’ve been waiting ages for you”. Even though the stage looks like it is set up for a band Rice is standing alone center stage with only an acoustic guitar for company.

The opening numbers ‘The Professor’, ‘Elephant’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Change You’ seem a bit laboured and they are spaced out by long speeches where Rice doesn’t always seem to get his point across. ’9 Crimes’ ends with a spectacular lighting display and what can only be described as a primal roar. ‘Trusty and True’ is preceded by a lengthy story about Ireland’s relationship with guilt, He tells us that the song is six and a half minutes long and this seems too much for some people as they take the opportunity shuffle off to the bar and the toilets.

As the night goes on he seems to settle down and get into the flow of things, ‘Delicate’, ‘Woman Like Man’, ’Time Always Time’ and ‘volcano’ are all greatly received and the audience are once again transfixed on the dimly lit stage. ’It Takes A Lot To Know A Man’ is possibly highlight of the show as his use of loop pedals for no less than 5 separate instruments sees Rice become a one man rock band for the ending of the song.

After commenting on his height, Rice decides to stand on a chair for the encore; ‘Volcano’ and ‘The Greatest Bastard’ are both utterly captivating before the show ends with a magnificent rendition of ‘The Blowers Daughter’ where the microphone is moved away to allow Rice to showcase his powerful vocals.

Words by Anthony Kelly