Divine Comedy, David Turpin
The evening started with support act David Turpin, who was not, perhaps, what was expected. A bit of an electro-indie (in the manner of Postal Service et al), half-spoken word, half-sung sort of thing, he was certainly intriguing, and more than a little curious. His somewhat timid presence on stage is a little disconcerting, though. He lacks a certain command or charisma that'd make that sort of demeanour more compelling and absorbing, especially since the tunes are so softly spoken/sung and so reserved.
As if in complete contrast to this, Neil Hannon then comes sauntering onto the stage, complete epitome of the slightly eccentric, charming little genius that he is, dressed in Complete Banker attire, with the shades, bowler hat and suitcase. He kicks off with 'My Lovely Horse' ("to stop you all asking for it"), to the sheer delight and glee of everyone there.
It was a good indicator of what was to come. Hannon's good humour, easy banter with the audience, and the light-heartedness with which he treats much of his music made for a purely delightful evening.
Despite having written some of the most achingly beautiful songs ever to have come out of this island, he displays such a great sense of humour and fun with his music, which extends beyond the wit and farce of some of his lyrics. He sings the guitar solo to 'Becoming More Like Alfie', drums the Blue Monday beats referenced in At The Indie Disco (before launching into the New Order riff), and gets everyone to whistle along to 'Songs Of Love' just like the Father Ted theme.
His lack of precious-ness about his art is refreshing and enchanting, and only endears him to the audience further. Which is a good job given the amount of slip-ups he makes, although the crowd is a) used to it, and b) so adoring that it doesn't really matter. The warm reverence and respect for him is palpable and evidenced by the stillness and silence in the room - when we weren't being instructed to clap/sing/whistle/harmonise along, that is.
The set list for the evening was long and varied, which is just what you want, really. He played about half of latest album Bang Goes The Knighthood, as well as a great mix of favourites from earlier albums. There was no fixed order of songs - he'd pick and choose what he felt like having a go at ("I'm in a good mood now, don't wanna play that one"), threw in a cover of Human League's 'Don't You Want Me' and was happy to respond to requests from the audience (well, when it was something he felt like he could play on just the guitar or piano).
It speaks volumes that despite performing for almost two hours, with two encores, and playing plenty of favourites, there were still some classics that he didn't get around to. If... and Everybody Knows (Except You) would've been lovely additions to the set, but that really is nit-picking.
He closed the second encore with a hauntingly exquisite rendition of Sunrise - such a simple yet emotive and stirring song - and walked off to a standing ovation. Just as things should be, frankly.