Do not underestimate the simple pleasure of sitting in a concrete amphitheatre in the evening sunshine drinking a cocktail from a plastic glass while watching an urbane Northern Irishman dressed as Napoleon shaking his epaulettes as his band in hussar chic bang out some choice cuts from the heyday of Britpop.
Divine Comedy ****
Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow
The absence of rain was all that was required to turn the Kelvingrove Bandstand into the finest bourgeois party pad in the west, populated for this Divine Comedy show by loyal music lovers who might balk at the full-on muddy, smelly, tenty festival experience but are quite happy to drink themselves giggly at an open air happening.
It transpired that Divine Comedy mainman Neil Hannon was the perfect master of ceremonies for such a jovial occasion as this, striking just the right balance of wit, self-deprecation, silliness, tunefulness and satire to capture the mood.
Hannon has been touring solo at the piano for a number of years, but getting the old band back together has re-energised this impish crooner, bringing out the showman at the heart of the pop caper that is How Can You Leave Me Here On My Own and affording him the opportunity to rock out on Bad Ambassador. But Hannon is best loved for his wry pop commentaries. His earlier hits, Something for the Weekend, National Express and Becoming More Like Alfie, all gleefully received by the growing pool of dancing fans clustered in front of the stage, were inspired by British cultural references,
but he occupied a Euro-friendly zone with his newest material, Napoleon Complex and Catherine the Great, with its Russian
language middle eight (“apologies to any Russians” he ad libbed).
Discarding his French imperial garb, Hannon re-emerged attired as a city gent for The Complete Banker, a jaunty number about the financial crisis, judiciously followed by Bang Goes the Knighthood, an intoxicated waltz in the European satirical cabaret tradition.
Pausing only to serve liquid refreshment to the band from his globe drinks cabinet, he breezed through a bossa nova, The Happy Goth and his waltzing Father Ted theme, Words of Love, before arriving at the cutesy nostalgia of At the Indie Disco with its affectionately cheesy nod to Blue Monday.
By this point the crowd was so transported that it was easy to miss Hannon’s aside that this will be his last year of touring. If true, then there is all the more reason to catch him at the Usher Hall in November, before The Divine Comedy canter off into the sunset.