Shepherds Bush Gig
Submitted: 23/10/2003
Reviewer: Julie Davis

Damien opened with The Professor, the first half of the song was acoustic with just him and the guitar and then the band came crashing in when he started singing the 'I don't know' parts....they then morphed the song into David Gray's "Babylon" which was received really the end of the song, Damien treated us to the longest "held note in one breath" since Bill Withers set the previous record on 'Lovely Day'!

As he prepared to sing 'I Remember', Damien made a comment about being in a relationship with someone that is based largely on fantasy and then having said 'relationship' broken off. It raised a laugh from the crowd. As Lisa started singing, I overheard a woman behind me just say one word, 'beautiful'. The band treated us to a real live rock and roll ending to the song with crashing cymbals and flashing stage lights.

Before launching into 'Older Chests', Damien described how he came to write the song. He was making romantic comparisons to the architecture of old (made me think of Hardy's 'Christminster') and the energies put into it compared to the "cardboard boxes" of the modern day. He said the same of old cars and even old guitars. I'd like to add jukeboxes to the list - give me the warm bubbling glow of a Wurlitzer in a cosy old bar any day.Damien was saying that he'd been round a friends house and there was this old fake plastic chest of drawers that was falling apart and there was a crack in the wall and he wished things were slower these days and had more substance.

The next song performed was 'Amie'. At this point, we left our vantage point in row three (my vista up until this point had amounted to the side of a drum through two sets of shoulders) all the way to the back of the Empire where the floor is raised and I had a distant but entire view of the stage.

Damien then made a comment about technical problems with their tour before starting to sing Cannonball without any amplification. My initial reaction was to kick myself for moving to the back of the venue but then the whole place fell silent. We could hear Damien clear as a bell and the only ambience that could be heard was the sound of the cash register keys at the back bar. The audience started singing along in whispers. It was a 'hairs on the back of the neck' moment. When he finished singing, the crowd around me went berserk.

It got harder at this point to hear what Damien said in-between songs as lots of people were talking loudly at the back but he was saying something about having certain appendages 'hanging off your body' that you don't know what to do with. It raised a laugh and then he started playing, 'Me, My Yoke and I'. Not one of my personal favourites but he performed it well and the crowd loved it.

Next up, Damien played 'Prague' which was amazing, followed by 'Childish'. Again this was received well and he performed a 'vocal zither' effect which sounded great.

Vivienne then performed a stunning version of the White Stripes, 'Seven Nation Army' and the crowd clapped along in time with a lot of 'whooping'. She got a massive response from the audience before being joined on stage again by the rest of the band again to perform 'Delicate'.

Again, from the back of the venue, I couldn't hear Damien's chat in-between songs but I heard enough to piece together that he must have been talking about David Arnold because they then played a fantastic rendition of 'Play Dead'. By now, there was a violinist on stage along with Vivienne and so the strings were sounding great.

"Eskimo" was next along with a guest opera singer at the end. I assume it was Doreen but I've never seen her in the flesh before so I'd be grateful if someone could confirm that.

They then played 'Volcano' and Damien started thanking the band before starting 'Cold Water' in the dark. At peak of the song at the end, they pointed floods on the audience and the effect was really stunning.

Then just a single spotlight on Damien and he sang 'Hallelujah'. Again, the people around me at the back bar fell silent and reverent. I think the cheer that followed was possibly the biggest of the night.

For the encore, they played 'Woman Like A Man' and then 'The Blowers Daughter'. The audience were by now so plastered that they sang like football hooligans along to 'I can't take my eyes off of you' which was pretty funny to watch (er.and join in). Gone was the subtlety we had for 'Cannonball'.

Damien then announced that there was only a few minutes left and so Dave from support band Slovo joined them on stage for 'Cheers Darlin' and then a storming version of Prince's, 'When Doves Cry' with a very dramatic flamenco sounding crescendo turning into a rock and roll finale.

Lisa then ended the show singing Portishead's, 'Glory Box'.

It was a fantastic night!