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There’s always been more to THE DIVINE COMEDY than throwaway musical one-liners. Ruth Hedges finds the ever debonaire NEIL HANNON, back with an excellent new album, in fine fettle.
ow to endear yourself to an Irish man. ‘So are you abroad. then'." [haying just dialed an international code] 'Well if you call Dublin
being abroad.’ ld‘ohll ‘.\'o. I‘m in me attic.~ Of
course he is. Where else would the laconic. poetic soul. Neil IIannon of the Divine Comedy. pictured in his new album reclining thoughtfully on an old chaise-long. be‘.’ lies at the top of an old gotltie house. creaking against the wind and rain. hidden away in splendid isolation with a piano. some books and a glass of sherry.
()r let‘s imagine anyway. The affable chap on the end of the phone can afford to retire from the world for a little bit. He's just finished a new album. xI/M‘t’lll l’i'lt’lH/S. and is about to embark on an international tour — well. if you call (ireat Britain abroad. Listening to it. you get a sense of resolution. The past few years hayen't been easy for the idiosyncratic songwriter. whose music falls into no obyiotIs categories. and apart from a couple of novelty songs. ‘National Iixhress' and '.»\lfie'. has neyer enjoyed popular success. Though he tells me he‘s on the Radio 2 playlist. ‘1 look down the list of the other nine acts and it‘s like. what on earth am I doing there'.’ But it‘s nice I applaud them for letting me in there‘s Lionel Ritchie and Anastasia.‘ Natural bedmates for sure. But where does he see himself a few dials up the I’M frequency. in the current pop scene'.’ ‘()h. about 22.’ Neil's amused self-knowing is a rather endearing trait. It almost sounds weary but is more the tone of someone who‘s _lllst Pretty liaPlIV with himself.
It can be a lonely furrow to plough. though. And eyen lonelier when you disperse » or as one (ierman writer so eloquently expressed it < dismember your
52 THE LIST 2:: g2, .'
‘I WANTED TO MAKE THE MOST DIVINE COMEDY ALBUM I COULD'
band. which is what IIannon did two years ago. ‘It would have been harder if I wasn‘t an optimistic kind of guy. I neyer felt like that was the end or anything. I
just knew that to keep going there were some things I
had to do.’ Since then. he‘s been on tour with Ben I’olds who also shed his live and has been recording like mad. "I‘he way I make albums. certainly when I‘m on my own. is quite obsessively. really. Once I get into it I don‘t want to stop — I don't want to think about anything else.‘
Ilannon. for all his laid back attic manner. inyests full passion into his music and there’s a lot of heart in :I/M’t’lli l'l'lt’lH/S. ‘I did want to get a little more open. I
just thought I needed to not be afraid of emotions and
saying things that are oyertly heartfelt. It’s difficult to do because you're treading a very line line between something that's moving and something that‘s sentimental and you have to be very wary. but I don‘t think I ever tipped over into Hollywood land.‘ He doesn‘t. of course. eyer. IIis rich. soaring voice can break your heart and put a smile on your face. The ltish orchestration stirs your insides and the
jangly choir gets your feet tapping. In essence he‘s
distilled eyerything that was good about the Divine (‘omedy and captured it in one album. 'I wanted to make the most Diyine (‘omedy album I could and to put my finger on the sound that I most enjoyed and settle on it.’ So he's settled and happy — riding the Radio 2 wave. making some of the best music of his life. padding about in a smoking jacket in his Irish retreat. And if it's not all quite like that. this charming man is. as the last track on his album says. still living a pretty charmed life. As so he should.
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Tue 27 Apr.
All the litigation, frustration and birthday celebration /n the wonderful world of music
HYPOTHETHETICALLY, IF YOU shot a man in Reno just to watch him die you might get ten years hard labour and if you were just getting out of the hoose gow now you’d have missed the first nine years of Big Big Country. The Glasgow festival celebrates it’s tenth year between 5-15 May with a stellar line up of the grizzled, chiselled and down right homely. Acts confirmed include Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men, Slaid Cleaves, Los Straightjackets our own Dean Owens and more. See the 29 April issue of the List for a preview of the festival. EDINBURGH'S ALTERNATIVE
radio station Fresh Air FM is back on 87.7FM tor a month and at www.treshairtm.co.tik from 18 April. The station showcases the best in local talent from all genres of music and some of the Cities best clubs are doing shows including Manga. Ultragroove and Mothertunk.
WIN SUPERGRASS TICKETS!
It's hard to believe that it has been ten years since Supergrass started but it's true and this tour is a greatest hits of sons. We have two pairs of tickets to give away for their show at the Barrowland. Glasgow on Monday 26 April. To get your sweaty mitts on a pair all yOu have to do is email promotions’gilist.co.uk with yoor name and a day time telephone number by Friday 23 April.
WIN KELLY OSBOURNE DVDS!
To celebrate the launch of Kelly Osturne's new DVD 'Live in London‘ on Monday 26 April. we have five copies to give to those who send an email to promotionstelist.co.uk by no later than Thursday 29 April. The first names out of the hat wins.