Breaking an eight year music hiatus, Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice performed at the Apollo Theater in New York City on Nov. 15. Rice has spent this fall promoting his new album, “My Favorite Faded Fantasy.” Rice’s small North American tour size, in combination with his long hiatus, resulted in his entire tour selling out.
The female duo My Bubba opened up the night with soft, harmonious melodies. The singers described how they serendipitously met Rice in a swimming pool in Iceland, only to find themselves months later touring with him across Europe and North America. My Bubba’s performance had a whimsical air to it that nicely prepared concertgoers for the night. As performers, My and Bubba almost seemed almost timid in their air, but this somehow came across as charming. While pleasant, it became clear that My Bubba’s opening set was only an appetizer to what would be a delightful main course.
The anticipation building up to Rice’s stage entrance was palpable. When Rice finally did break through the curtains he was received with thunderous applause, a standing ovation and numerous cheers. The set opened with “The Professor & La Fille Danse,” a fan favorite from his 2004 album “B-Sides.” It was clear from his interactions with the crowd that Rice had not performed for a long time but was excited to be back. Anything that Rice struggled to say was communicated in his lyrics.
He performed his new single “Colour Me In” in complete darkness. He sang the well-loved “Cannonball” without a microphone or any sort of amplification, causing the already intimate concert to become even more personal. Rice invited various musicians to share the stage. Shazad Ismaily, a friend and musician, helped him perform “I Don’t Want To Change You.”
The best part of the night, however, was when Rice brought out an entire stage worth of people to help him perform “Trusty and True.” Listening to Rice’s raw and authentic lyrics in turn with his melodic pleas and expressions, it was impossible not to be moved. It is clear that Rice, after eight years, still has the power to grab hold of our hearts and shake them around in our chests, leaving their vibrations to echo inside us hours later.
With few tours and years separating them, tickets to Damien Rice concerts are hard to find and often expensive. If the opportunity to attend one of his show arises, concertgoers should relish the chance to see such an authentic artist.