Damien Rice, Metro theatre, October 2004.
As bad as was the second Damien Rice gig I went to, the first was the polar opposite. I got the ticket in rather serendipitous circumstances. I’d had his album for a little while and liked- rather than loved- it. Switchfoot were playing a gig at the Metro, and when I went to pick up our tickets, I asked if they had any left for Damien Rice. Though the gig was sold out, someone had recently returned a few, so they were able to sell me one.
So I went to the gig alone. The first time I’d done that, in fact. And it was magic, from start to end. He opened with “The Blower’s Daughter Part II” (which was later released as ‘Elephant’ on this second album, 9). Missy Higgins was in the crowd, and she joined him onstage for volcano. He covered Portishead’s Glory Box (one of my favourite songs), and Hallelujah. He played every song on “O”, and closed with a classic version of “Cheers, Darlin'”, which is one of the most beautifully vitriolic songs I’ve heard.
The audience was fantastic. Because the gig was before Rice found mainstream success, it was primarily Irish. I befriended the people around me, including a lovely woman in her fourties with a daughter named Nina, after Nina Simone.
He played for hours. Driving back to the Mountains at 1am, I called my mother in China and told her I planned to marry an Irishman… such was the magic of Damien Rice.
UPDATE: I just found a dodgy YouTube video of the gig: