The Somerset House summer series of gigs has quickly become established in the discerning London gig goer’s diary in recent years. Not only does the grand old riverside tax office provide an aesthetically pleasing backdrop to live music events during balmy evenings, but the weather can usually be relied upon to play ball. The sun setting in such surrounds, as usually established acts ply their trade, makes for a refined evening.
What better act to open the 2006 series, then, than The Divine Comedy, a band for whom the word refined seems as apt a description as any. Neil Hannon’s ninth album Victory For The Comic Muse is in shops now, and tonight on split level staging the band showcase the record and reasons why, 15 years into The Divine Comedy’s story, Hannon can comfortably fill the venerable courtyard with fans still.
One reason people come back time and again to see the Comedy is that no two shows ever seem to be alike. Tonight’s set was a fair bit changed from the mini-tour in May. A merge of Queen Of The South with Nelly Furtado‘s Maneater was certainly unexpected – and welcomed with whoops – while National Express returned to favour early on. Of the rest of the old songs, Charge and Something For The Weekend also did their Casanova-era rabble-rousing.
The Divine Comedy’s latest material seems for the most part bedding in still, but To Die A Virgin – the next single – proves a highlight, the most bombastic and fun this band have been for ages. A cover of The Associates‘ Party Fears Two remains a Marmite spot in the set, but the superb A Lady Of A Certain Age, much as it had in the May tour, hushed the place to respectful attention for the tale of the title’s once-celebrated starlet in her twilight days.
The sun was setting over the Thames as an encore of Lucy, the inevitable Tonight We Fly and an unexpected Perfect Lovesong sent the faithful away happy from a marriage of band and venue that could scarcely have been more suitable.