Damien Rice | The Auditorium, Rome | 19 July, 2007

If you enjoy Damien Rice's music you just have to see him live...there are no two ways about it. His performance in the open air Cavea at the Auditorium in Rome on Thursday night was staggeringly good. A consummate musician and performer who moves with ease from guitars to keyboards, he manages to add something indefinable that turns the live event into a truly magical evening. Certainly, the vulnerability expressed in his soul-laid-bare lyrics really comes into play when the guy is singing in front of you, but what really catches you by surprise is just how much more intense every song sounds live; four years down the line numbers from his debut album 0 still sound fresh, and really felt, whereas newer songs from 9 (like opening song Rootless Tree which he played solo at the piano) are instant classics.
As the final song of the main set Damien stepped away from the microphone and sang Cannonball totally unplugged. Rome audiences are not usually good at sitting quietly without chattering through concerts (or movies for that matter) but you could have heard a pin drop as the entire Cavea fell silent and leaned forward to listen...and then sang ever so gently along. Wonderful.
The closing song of the encore was another delight. Throughout the concert Damien had hardly said two words other than mumbled and barely audible introductions of band members. He introduced the song Cheers Darlin', however, with a very funny monologue about a drunken evening in a pub and a failed attempt to pick up a girl; he then proceeded to sing the entire song as if he were drunk, smoking and drinking red wine and staggering off stage to ecstatic applause.
Another personal favourite theatrical moment for me was Eskimo...as the song reached its crescendo, we were treated to some simple but very effective lighting effects – suddenly the Auditorium had become a swirling snow scene! The audience gasped in child-like wonder...
The full set list as follows – (thanks to Nine Crimes, excellent Italian Damien Rice fan site)
1. Rootless Tree (Damien solo on piano)
2. Volcano
3. Insane
4. I Remember & Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
5. Dogs
6. Delicate (Old Tomatoes intro)
7. Me, My Yoke & I
8. Accidental Babies
9. Eskimo
10. The Blower's Daughter
11. Cannonball (unplugged)
12. Coconut Skins & percussion jam with band
13. Sleep Don't Weep
14. Cheers Darlin' (with monologue)