AS LONG AS WE CAN ALL WATCH, THAT’S OKAY
The weekend was full of The Divine Comedy.
When the band announced their U.S. tour, they initially didn’t have Portland on their itinerary, so I made plans to visit my friend Christopher in Seattle and we could attend the show there. The Divine Comedy are a spectacular band, well worth the travel. I had only seen them once before, and it wasn’t really a "them"—bandleader Neil Hannon performed an acoustic solo set in the opening slot on the Ben Folds tour (talk about pearls before swine); therefore, this would be my first opportunity to see them as a band. (Though, the heyday of the string and brass sections are gone, this was just a quartet.) Besides, as good as the last performance was, it’s a bit rough seeing someone you really enjoy do a quiet set for a room packed with people who have zero interest in hearing what he has to say.
Thursday night down here was fun because it was extremely loose. They had only gotten off the plane from England a few hours before, and the boys were all pretty jetlagged. There were a lot of false starts and charming mistakes, as we got treated to a handful of hits and a handful of new material (a bit sub par lyrically, sounding like Hannon spent too much time in the faux-clever tour bus of Ben Folds). In contrast, Friday night was a lot tighter and featured some different songs, including a cover of “Daydream Believer” that worked out pretty well.
Friday night I was also able to witness two of the worst types of concertgoers in their natural environment.
First was the Attention Seeker. This is the guy who somewhere got the idea that his name is on the ticket. Tonight’s particular Attention Seeker was clearly brought to the show, he wasn’t in attendance out of any interest on his part. He was actually there with four women and one of their boyfriends, and the women seemed to really be into the music. Not that Attention Seeker cared. If no one was looking at him, he would tap one of his friends on the shoulder to relay to him or her the latest quip he had come up with. They tried protesting at times, but if even their dancing couldn’t deter him, why would a direct plea? And if they weren’t giving him his due, you could see him looking around to see if there was anyone else to make eye contact with. Because not talking was not something he was prepared to do.
The second was the Auditioner. The Auditioner is actually a fan. In fact, he’s a bit of an uber-fan. He’s the guy down front and center, right under the microphone, who knows every word. How do you know he knows every word? Because he is going to sing along and/or lip synch so dramatically that you can make out every lip curl, every tong thrust on the th sound, so that you can see just how white his teeth may be. He emotes like the member of the chorus of a musical who has heard there is a talent scout in the audience and figures it’s his one chance to be seen. And in this case, Neil Hannon made the grave error of acknowledging the guy’s existence between songs. It took several minutes for the Auditioner to be quieted down at that point, basically ending when Neil reminded him whose show it was (and no, it wasn’t the Attention Seeker’s, oddly enough). But that gave the Auditioner a chance to point back at Neil and give him that “You da man” wink. (Hilariously, it was the only pointing cue the Auditioner got right the whole show. Any time he would attempt to point at an appropriate moment of a song, he was off.) There was also a bit of irony when the Auditioner made fun of another fan for grabbing the set list. I guess since he and the singer shared a personal moment, he had surpassed the level of such geekery.
Current Soundtrack: The Divine Comedy, Fin de Siecle