Damien Rice,Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis-12.20.06
So, is it too late to add a show to my top 10? Damien Rice completely enthralled a sold out Orpheum Theater on Wednesday evening, his last stop on his current US tour. It has certainly been too long between albums for Damien, and definitely too long since I last saw him, at the Pantages Theater in April of 2004. Strolling out alone and unassuming, Damien sat down at his piano without saying hello, and proceeded to play ‘Rootless Tree’ from his great new album ‘9.’ If you’ve heard the new record, there is quite a startling chorus of ‘Fuck You’s’ in that song, but somehow Damien made the cursing seem endearing and rather heartbreaking. And then the rest of his brilliant band came out(with the beguiling Lisa Hannigan), and they tore the roof of the Orpheum. The band were quite loose, it seemed, with this being their last show of the tour, and that resulted in quite an exhilarating extended improvisation at the ends of both ‘Volcano’ and ‘I Remember.’ Damien didn’t say anything to the crowd for the first half hour/forty five minutes-just let his music and lyrics do the talking for him. And that was what the packed house was there for-and Damien did not disappoint. The first part of his set was quite heavy on the new material, with fantastic versions of ‘Grey Room’ ‘Coconut Skins’ and an absolutely amazing version of ‘Me, My Yoke & I’ that really energized the crowd-and unfortunately encouraged them to talk/yell things at Damien between songs. Some of it was cute and made the show unique, but get over it people-the show is about him and his band, not whatever inane thing you decide to shout out to impress your friends. But I digress…
‘9 Crimes’ was next-the brilliant first single from the new record. And it was as heartbreakingly beautiful live as it is on the album-probably even more so. My only complaint is the song is only 3 _ minutes long. And next was a personal highlight for me-‘Eskimo.’ I’ve never been the biggest fan of the song, but last night that changed. Damien sang the first couple verses unmic’ed and acoustic. Absolutely incredible-and the crowd was completely enraptured, and thankfully, quiet-I’ve never seen a performed sing without a mic to a theater full of 2400 people, hanging on his every word. And as the song built up, Damien got closer and closer to his mic, and the song erupted, complete with snowflakes projected on the screen behind the band. Very moving.
A stirring version of ‘Woman Like A Man’ was next, which was great. Damien really lost himself during that song. And then the band proceeded to walk off the stage. It seemed to early for a set break, so I was wondering what was happening. Well, Vyvienne Long, the cellist in the band, after telling us about her new dress that she got especially for the show, proceed to sit at the piano and play a wonderful cover of ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1’ by The Flaming Lips. It was great-but I think too many people in the audience just thought it was a silly song, and weren’t familiar with the original. They should have been at the State Fair show.
After a great version of Elephant, the older ‘hits’ started coming. With amazing versions of ‘Volcano’ ‘Cannonball’ and ‘I Remember’ closing out the main set. Damien and the band left to a rousing standing ovation, with all of us hoping for a special encore. After a few minutes the rest of the band-minus Damien-strolled out and proceeded to play a song I didn’t quite recognize-the message boards are saying it’s a new song, entitled ‘Green Eye’s’, but it sounded more like an obscure cover that I’ve yet to place-I thought it sounded like Nick Drake when I heard it. A good song, with the always beautiful Lisa Hannigan on vocals. Then Damien rejoined the band for a rousing version of ‘The Professor/La Fille Danse’. And then Damien notified the crowd that they were in danger of going over curfew, and were going to get fined if they played past 11. But no worries, they played a touching version of ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ that surely moved everyone with a heartbeat in the theater. And I thought that was it. But Damien looked to the side of the stage and asked if they could do one more, and they did. And even with the curfew looming, Damien took time out to thank everyone, including their bus and truck drivers, and ‘the people below the stage counting all our money.’ Even asking the crowd if anyone had a really big house they could continue the show at, or better yet a castle. But then he corrected himself, and teased us by saying ‘oh that’s right, this is America, you don’t have castles here.’ Funny stuff. And the wonderful two hour plus show closed with a passionate version of ‘Accidental Babies’ with Damien on piano.
Damien and his fellow band mates really treated the adoring crowd at the Orpheum to an early Christmas present. His heartfelt and emotional songs really mesmerized the attentive crowd, and left everyone at the show uplifted. A brilliant show.
Me, My Yoke & I
Woman Like A Man
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1
The Professor/La Fille Danse
The Blowers Daughter
Take care and Happy Christmas(as the Brit's would say.)
Thanks again Eric keep up the good work!!!!
Damien Rice Myspace/Website