The evening’s entertainment commences with Salford’s Ren Harvieu whose set is a captivating and compelling slice of haunting cabaret, with first-class accompaniment by Romeo Stodart (of The Magic Numbers fame). The chanteuse concluding a perfectly matched aperitif for what follows with Body Shot and Swerves and Curves.
Then it’s time for The Divine Comedy to bounce on stage and launch into the bon homie of Absent Friends, after which Neil Hannon warmly greets the crowd whilst also warning that rapid stage exits maybe required during the night due to a slightly dodgy stomach! Early highlights include Becoming More Like Alfie and Everybody Knows, which has even the most reluctant participants head-bopping along.
It’s an evening of musical excellence, but the entrancing accordion playing of Ian Watson is the element that really catches the ear, almost transporting us to the cobbled streets of Montmartre, particularly on the sumptuous To The Rescue.
The first set of the night is rounded off sublimely with a triple whammy of Generation Sex, the always excellent Gin Soaked Boy, and Queuejumper with Hannon professing his innocence against being a bit of a wanker despite the song’s lyrics.
Following the intermission (which probably hasn’t come a moment too soon given our singers bodily challenges) we are treated to the enchanting elegance of A Lady of a Certain Age, and the delightful inclusion of Love What You Do from the criminally under-rated ‘Regeneration’ album.
The band’s harmonies throughout are glorious, reaching the epitome of perfection on Song of Love, where a five-part harmony bathes us in a choral glow.
There’s theatrics galore from Hannon on Our Mutual Friend as he rises from his prone position on the floor to bring that beautifully heartbreaking composition to a close with the most delicate of melodica solos. Then it’s time for How Can You Leave Me On My Own which launches band and audience alike into full-on fun time mode, followed by Something for the Weekend and set closer National Express which is brought to a climax with Watson on keys playfully duelling it out with guitarist Tosh Flood.
Our band returns for an exhilarating encore which features Daddy’s Car, Perfect Love Song and Tonight We Fly, before Hannon offers a heartfelt au revoir sending an adoring audience home with beaming smiles on their faces, on a evening where coolness personified married pop perfection.