Considering how fast the theatre sold out and the fanfare surrounding his first album in eight years, you can be forgiven for expecting something more from Damien Rice than an intimate acoustic performance from the renowned singer songwriter.
A criticism this is not.
He takes to the beautifully lit stage by himself. No theatrics, no band behind him; just a man and his guitar playing a beautifully mixed set pulling from the three albums which have spanned his career so far, as well as two B-sides.
Opening with The Greatest Bastard, the music quickly reverted back to tracks from the much loved ‘O’ with Damien turning Volcano into an accapella backed track with the help of the entire audience. Splitting the room in three, he gave each area their lines and created a build up that few artists could manage from an intimately quiet crowd.
The entire set was littered with those moments that seem to appear only on YouTube videos in some far off land, with a beautiful acoustic demo version of 9 Crimes and a full choir joining in for an extended ending to Trusty and True for the final song of the encore.
In between songs, the applause almost shook the room and Damien made sure to fill the time tuning up with whimsical stories that had tangents that went nowhere. He was charming, he was delightful; an image far flung from the stories of a much stung artist who was apparently hiding away for many years, one who many of us believed was done with music forever.
Thankfully, this was not to be true. The new additions to his setlist are a strong follow up to much of what’s come before and show that this is a man that is not out of touch with a genre he almost defined. Two hours hardly seemed like enough time to spend among what seemed like old friends, listening to music that must soundtrack the end of too many relationships.
Welcome back Damien Rice.