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Review of The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon at Greenwich Summer Sessions ****
3:05pm Thursday 28th July 2011
By Mark George

GREENWICH’S Summer Sessions got under way with The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon performing a solo show.

Arriving on stage dressed like a commuter on his way to work, Hannon clutched his songbook in one hand as if it was his briefcase.

But not many other men in grey suits could entertain the crowd at the Old Royal Naval College with an hour and 50 minutes of witty banter and 24 songs about love, cricket and a certain coach company.

Neil Hannon delighted his fans at Greenwich Summer Sessions, playing all the tracks from his latest album

Hannon began with an announcement hoping the crowd enjoyed his most recent album, Bang Goes The Knighthood, as he would be playing it in its entirety before launching into a fantastic performance of opening track Down In The Street Below. View full article »


The Divine Comedy – review
Old Royal Naval College, London
Caroline Sullivan, Wednesday 27 July 2011 18.48 BST

Trust Neil Hannon to find a venue grand enough to accommodate his pop symphonies. Wren’s 17th-century hospital-turned-college – home to the Greenwich Summer Sessions, of which this was the opening night – was a fitting backdrop for the florid twists and turns of his Divine Comedy catalogue: at one end, colonnaded splendour; at the other, a view of Canary Wharf across the Thames. Neither end escaped his notice. In tribute to the college’s stateliness, he toasted his audience with Pimm’s, then drawled: “We have a marvellous view of the financial district. This song is for them.” It was called The Complete Banker.

There was more drollery where that came from. Performing solo brings out the joker in Hannon, whose relentless wryness suggests he goes through life with an eyebrow perpetually arched. That’s also the default setting of his lyrics: if you hadn’t known he was a master of portraying the British middle classes as Pooterish fumblers, you did after two hours and 20 songs.

Hannon played his current album, Bang Goes the Knighthood, in its entirety, his piano taking the place of the album’s orchestral arrangements. Noting that audiences find it hard to clap in time to At the Indie Disco (such irony!), he produced a metronome, and kept the comedy flowing by inviting a fan to tell a joke during I Like.

Throughout these frolics, and the run of hits that comprised the second half of the show, Hannon was both charming host and serious artist. An accomplished pianist and decent crooner, he made even the vaudeville larkiness of National Express seem commanding. There’s got to be a medal, if not a knighthood, for a performer who can do that.

Divine Comedy/Jose Gonzalez, Old Royal Naval College – review
By André Paine
27 Jul 2011

Neil Hannon’s songs hit the West End this Christmas in his Swallows and Amazons musical. This open-air show was a chance to see The Divine Comedy frontman going solo with his more grown-up material.

The series was opened by José González, bookended by giant inflatable daisies for reasons known only to the organisers. González sat plucking his acoustic guitar and delivering a mumbled vocal, even on Kylie Minogue’s Hand on Your Heart. He was often spellbinding, though somewhat samey.

That wasn’t a problem for Hannon. Playing current album Bang Goes the Knighthood in full may have been bloody-minded but it showed his range. Sitting at a piano, he pointed out the “marvellous view of the financial district” and dedicated The Complete Banker to its denizens. There was also the breezy At the Indie Disco, Island Life, an enjoyable offcut from his musical, and the album title track about perversion in high places.

Hannon’s self-depreciation was most entertaining and his rapport with the audience let him laugh off a number of lapses. He provided spectacular moments, including a haunting cover of the Pet Shop Boys’ Being Boring and the cricket anthem Jiggery Pokery. But as the crowd sang the National Express encore, a faltering Hannon told them “you’re better than me – that’s insulting!”
A haphazard sort of triumph.

Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon talks ahead of gig at Greenwich Summer Sessions
5:17pm Monday 27th June 2011
By Matthew Jenkin

The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon talks to Matthew Jenkin about his music, Father Ted and making bad covers.

FROM penning a spoof song for sitcom Father Ted and composing the theme tune for The IT Crowd, to producing a string of chart hits, there’s nothing conventional about Neil Hannon’s career.

“There’s nothing which I don’t allow myself to write about, as long as it interests me and does something emotive to the people who listen to it,” explains Hannon.

The man behind baroque popsters The Divine Comedy certainly has few limitations when it comes to material for songs, finding inspiration in subjects as banal as cricket and a coach company.

However, his talent for producing catchy pop tunes with eccentric but witty lyrics has served him well and it has been 20 years since the world was first introduced to the foppish Irishman with the release of debut album Fanfare for the Comic Muse.

Now, still under the banner of The Divine Comedy but performing solo, Hannon is doing the festival rounds, headlining one night at this year’s Greenwich Summer Sessions on July 26.

However, it might not be the chart-storming 90s anthem National Express or his tribute to Michael Caine, Becoming More Like Alfie, which the crowd will be screaming to hear.

“My Lovely Horse will probably be on my gravestone because it’s the song which is shouted for at my live shows more than any other,” he laughs, referring to the Eurovision song he wrote for seminal comedy Father Ted.

He added: “It’s insane. I knocked it out in half an hour.

“My Lovely Horse is not the greatest song in history. It’s just the silliest.”

Not content with delighting his devoted fans with his own lyrically inventive tracks, Hannon has gained a reputation for putting his inimitable spin on hits from Nelly Furtado’s Maneater to Raspberry Beret by Prince.

“It’s easy to get cover versions wrong,” groans Hannon as he is reminded of a song he did for a Smiths tribute album in 1996.

Giggling, he said: “We did There Is A Light Which Never Goes Out and it’s terrible.

“But I really like doing covers because it can get very dull just listening to me go on. I do like doing odd ones.”

Just don’t ask him to do any Lady Gaga.

“I can’t stand her music,” he spits.

I can’t see him in a meat dress anyway, so it’s probably for the best.

1. Neapolitan Girl
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2. Perfect Lovesong
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#31 – The Divine Comedy

Luz, câmara, acção. O espectáculo vai começar agora mesmo, mas não em cima do palco propriamente dito, não onde todos pudessem ver. Nem pensar. Mesmo ali na boca do palco do Teatro Aveirense, onde os nervos costumam imperar segundos antes das cortinas se abrirem, a meia-luz e com a classe que lhe é sobejamente reconhecida, um calmíssimo e bem-disposto Neil Hannon abriu as portas do seu maravilhoso cancioneiro pop para o auditório da Videoteca Bodyspace, poucas horas antes de o fazer para algumas centenas de pessoas, visivelmente rendidas ao seu inesgotável talento e imaginação. Fê-lo com a generosidade de quem sabe que as suas canções não são só pertença sua; fê-lo sabendo perfeitamente que estas revertem já a favor de uma base de dados universal acessível para aos que estudam e tentam lidar com as maravilhosas ironias da existência, com o amor, com os pequenos episódios de uma peça de teatro em tempo real chamada vida.