Damien Rice: A One Man Powerhouse.
Damien Rice is a force to be reckoned with. Having seen him before, back with Fiona Apple on her 2006 Extraordinary Machine tour, I thought I had an idea of what to expect since his songs on record come across quite lush & mellow, then, seeing him grace the stage that evening long ago, I soon discovered he is anything but low-key as he rocked his way through the set…complete with plenty of cursing.
Fast forward 9 years later, I was ecstatic to cover his show at The Greek Theatre Friday night, which, also happened to be their season opener. Having heard it would just be Rice & his guitar, I wondered if we were in for that laid back, peace & love sorta show. I should have known to never expect that from him. Hitting the stage a bit after 8:30, (After enjoying one of my favorite CDs, Songs of Leonard Cohen, play over the loud speakers) Damien wasted no time setting the mood for what was to be a ruckus, wild, sailor mouth filled evening. He tells jokes, he shares stories, he gave a back story to nearly every song he performed, & we could not have been having a more fun time. He is that rare kind of performer who is able to make you feel like you’ve just met him at a pub, & are sharing love woes & silly stories over a few Heineken’s.
Clearly doing a Jeff Buckley & not having a set list, he proclaimed “I am your Bitch!” mid-set & encouraged the audience to yell out their requests. Thanks to that, we got gems from his debut album, O, like Amie & Volcano. Turning himself into a one man powerhouse with the handy assistance of his foot pedals, a highlight for me was the heart wrenching 9 Crimes, which he began on piano, then suddenly reached for his guitar, & concluded the song on it.
When a fan exclaimed, “You’re hot!” Rice was quick to laugh & yell back, “I am fu**ing cold!” which, alas, was true for us all. While we’ve had some perfect warm, sunny days here in LA, Friday was not one of them & even Rice was struggling at the rare cold we were having. When he apologized that he needed to wrap up, as he was freezing, it was too adorable as a fan quickly lent him his jacket, which he wore, complete with the hood up, as he ended his first set with one of my favorites from him, I Remember.
Rice clearly loves to perform & connect with his audience; when a fan far away kept singing along, he was quick to invite him on stage to sing along with him, as the young man appeared to have vanished into the dark, Rice teased that he must have been a ghost, but, he was just working his way down from the crowd, & next thing we knew, a fantastic duet between a fan & Damien was born. It was such a lovely, fun way to end an already incredible show. Heres hoping we’ll see Rice again sooner than in 9 years!
(*Disclosure: Special thanks to The Greek Theatre for providing media credentials. All opinions are my own.)