If it’s May, that can only mean one thing. Eurovision. Well, yes, but that wasn’t what I was thinking of.
End of the football season? Well, yes, but again, not what I was thinking of.
Topless spides drinking in Botanic. Again, yes, but not what I was thinking of.
What I was thinking of was, the annual Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast, the 18th running of this event. Always worth keeping an eye out when the line-up is announced, one of the highlights of this year’s event was a concert by The Divine Comedy. Another highlight was Rich Hall, who I saw two days after this concert.
Any concert in Belfast by a Northern Ireland act is usually billed as a “homecoming” even if the act isn’t actually from Belfast. Neil Hannon telling the crowd “Despite my accent, i’m one of you” in response to a woman screaming “Sold out!!!” in a Belfasty accent.
It was perhaps apt, given the comedic nature of the band’s name, that Neil Hannon was part stand-up when interacting with the crowd between songs stating that the venue reminds him of childhood camping holidays while declaring his love of tents, but hoping that this one doesn’t have any spiders.
This came just after performing a new song, How Can You Leave Me On My Own? about his domestic uselessness, while dressed as Napoleon.
He wasn’t dressed like that the whole show as he had a mid show costume change, changing into a suit, his tie then disappeared by the encore. It was one of those nights.
I remember getting into The Divine Comedy when Something For The Weekend was a UK Top 20 hit, buying their singles after that and being dismayed that their chart positions had two numbers, National Express in 1999 giving them a sole Top 10 hit.
One of those undercharting singles was Bad Ambassador, which Neil Hannon couldn’t remember what year it was released when introducing it. It was 2001 if you care.
Sipping a pint of Guinness inbetween songs, Hannon began grumbling “Drink. Feck. Arse”.
He wasn’t being a banter bore reciting Father Ted quotes. He had some justification. He only wrote the theme tune (Songs Of Love) to the show. The band performed this, with the crowd singing along, not to the words, but the iconic guitar riff known to fans of the TV show.
This being the month of Eurovision, the crowd then began shouting for him to do a cover of My Lovely Horse by Ted Crilly and Dougal Maguire. He decline, so the crowd began shouting “Go on, go on, go on”.
He still wouldn’t budge, preferring to play something, in his words, “obscure” in the shape of Something For The Weekend.
There may not have been a cover of My Lovely Horse, but the crowd were treated to two covers. First, was Alfie by Cilla Black. Why? “Because I like it” according to Hannon.
The second cover was an instrumental version of Blue Monday, kicking in when Blue Monday was mentioned in the lyrics to The Indie Disco.
Two stools were then brought onto the stage as Lisa O’Neill, who supported them then came on stage for a duet. There wasn’t just musical reasons for the chairs, with Hannon quipping “I’m 46 now”.
If you saw him dancing on stage, he didn’t look like a man who needed a breather as he said “See you soon” when leaving the stage.
A Belfast gig being added to their Winter tour looks a good bet.