Damien Rice – Old National Centre

Damien Rice – Old National Centre 4/13/2015
April 14, 2015 by Jeremy Zucker Leave a Comment

My Favourite Faded Fantasy, Damien Rice‘s 2014 release, was one of my favorite albums of the year. Few artists marry emotional intensity and cinematic scope to create songs that truly make you feel, and Fantasy was a wonderful return to form after 2006′s muted 9. To be fair, 9 is a good album. But after his remarkable debut, O, he dialed back the wide-screen drama and the songs, save knockouts like Rootless Tree, felt less impactful. To paraphrase Lost in Translation, I wanted more intensity.

Rice’s sold out show at the Old National Centre Monday night brought the intensity. In fact — and I don’t say this lightly — it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

For 100 minutes, he poured his heart and soul into delivering the full weight of his catalog. While he did place the expected focus on tracks from Fantasy, the set included a number of songs from O and 9. He even threw in the lesser known B-side, Rat Within the Grain.

Rice opened the show with the title track to his latest, on his knees, acoustic guitar in hand, and the spotlight behind him. From the opening notes, Rice established a mood of hushed reverence. And he was mesmerizing. Throughout the 15 songs, his voice soared. Considering my feelings on 9, it was a slight surprise that the set’s first half highlight was the powerful, back-to-back Elephant and 9 Crimes. Rice has always had a bit of Jeff Buckley in him, and those two songs showcased the rafter-raising vocal similarities.

Rice closed his main set with a delightful, audience sing-a-long version of Volcano, followed by a cathartic I Remember. He then returned to the stage for a four-song encore, which included the angry Rootless Tree and his “no show is complete without” stunner The Blower’s Daughter.

Few songwriters can command a stage the way Rice did, alone, Monday night. I’ve seen thousands of shows. Most become a footnote in my memory — this one will stick with me forever.

My Favourite Faded Fantasy
Older Chests
The Box
Rat Within the Grain
9 Crimes
I Don’t Want to Change You
Trusty and True
I Remember

It Takes A Lot To Know A Man
Rootless Tree
The Blower’s Daughter
Long Long Way