Saturday, 27 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Twenty-Seven: The Divine Comedy

Seen here in the 1940s.

I was crazy obsessed with being a cartoonist when I grew up.  To me ‘cartoonist’ varyingly meant being a comic strip artist and designing characters for animated movies that I made up in The Head, depending on the year, but I was held back by a total lack of wit or artistic talent.  The Comic Strips never amounted to more than copying Garfield or Peanuts strips with less interesting characters.  I had two doodles I drew repeatedly, although this was because they were so simple, rather than they were remotely interesting and I certainly never did anything with them.
I was just pleased to draw something that looked the same every time.

For years I had an interest in making up a character and then drawing an entire universe/family tree of similar beings, the way Poddington Peas or Family Ness (or the Spice Girls) treated characters (change the adjective in front of the noun, thus a new character is born), but I don’t think I ever did anything with these.
One day I doodled a fish.  Next I doodled an evil counterpart (obviously).

Next I had this many.
Original Fish was first, duh, Killer Fish second and Cute Fish third.
While The Animated Movie Characters were all a bit… feminine, because curves are more interesting than whatever men have.
This is the only one I have left, because it is the only one that didn’t suck.

And I hadn’t a clue how to actually draw bodies in motion and I’ve never been able to draw hands.  We were never really taught how to draw people in art class, which I would have thought was the most important thing to learn.  We did still life, and we studied aboriginal art, and we got to ‘transform’ stuff, but no life drawing.  I never quite articulated The Desires to be a cartoonist because whenever I drew something and was always totally proud of it, someone nearby when presented with The Masterpiece would point out how utterly naff it was.
This failed to impress The Mother
Which is why the best I can do now is scrawl a Homburg on a black and white circle with an archaic edition of Microsoft Paint.

And on a different note…

I have never really been to concerts.  There was an Ant & Dec one many many years ago, which even while I was there wasn’t really my scene, and there was that 60s tribute show at the theatre, and the occasional live band in a pub or bar and the open air classical concert, but otherwise, it’s just not been something I’ve done.

The Favourite Band is The Divine Comedy.  ‘Band’ is a strong word, when we all know it’s just Neil Hannon.

Anyway for his 42nd birthday he did a concert in London.  Tickets sold out fast.  But before they did, I had bought two.

Neil Hannon’s Fabulous 42nd Birthday (The Divine Comedy/Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre/7th November 2012)

So what can I tell you about it?  Neil played guitar and mostly piano, and turns out he can do things with a piano I didn’t even know were possible.  Everyone was given party hats and party horns (I have no idea what  is the official name for these, because there isn't one).  The support act were Pugwash (any Divine Comedy fan knows if you take Thomas Walsh of Pugwash and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy then you get The Duckworth Lewis Method), and some people didn’t come in until after they had finished so they missed Neil sneaking on to play Meeting Mr Miandad, which is The Favourite Duckworth Lewis Song, so screw you people who sat in front of me later and kept blocking The View haha!  
He had a giant 42 lit up in lights that he tried to climb on (unsuccessfully), guest singers (Alison Moyet and Tom Chaplin), a surprise string quartet (they were hidden behind huge presents), and the audience got to use their party horns to play along to Songs Of Love (theme to Father Ted).  He played the entire album Promenade, because it was his birthday and he wanted to.  His daughter (I presume) came on stage to give him a birthday cake and he can’t sing when eating birthday cake.  And he’s so likeable.

I wrote the playlist down at the time, but I’ve no idea where that is now, so from memory… uh… songs he may have sung:

He started with some from his latest album (Bang Goes The Knighthood), which I think may have been Assume The Perpendicular, At The Indie Disco and The Complete Banker.

His guest singers sang some of his songs, but I don't recall which and I can't be bothered to check youtube.

He sang all of Promenade in order (because it has a narrative) with the string quartet.

As for the rest, which included a couple of my absolute favourites, he definitely played Songs Of Love (and possibly Perfect Lovesong because I always get those two mixed up).  National Express was in there somewhere too, I'm sure.  And A Lady Of A Certain Age and Our Mutual Friend and he definitely sang Charmed Life, because his daughter was there, and To Die A Virgin because it’s about a birthday.

It was a very different experience hearing these songs live.  Some of them lacked the majesty of the recorded versions but others were opened up in a way I hadn't appreciated before.

In conclusion, it was fan-freaking-tastic.

What's your favourite band?


  1. This was bliss, apart from National Express, by which time I was getting a mean headache.

    Tom Chaplin sung Love What You Do (from Regeneration) and Alison Moyet, um, Woman Of The World? One of my favourite moments was To Die A Virgin, and the laugh he got when he says "Hooray, it's my birthday..." (Propositioning the entire audience.) Hooting the Father Ted theme was a lovely moment. The Booklovers came alive, for once, with random people shouting out their favourite bits. And Promenade sounded so good, I wanted to dive in and swim in it. I loved Neil's excited little "Dum, du-du-dum, du-du-dum!" as we got closer to Tonight We Fly.

    Basically one of the only gigs I've ever been to, but probably hard to top.

    1. I hadn't really listened to Promenade before this - other than Geronimo and Going Downhill Fast, so I didn't know what to expect. I was a little afraid it was going to be an album I didn't like, but thankfully not. I do think the experience of these songs live and in order was very special. Don't Look Down had particular resonance.

  2. Surprising to see drawings like that, which presumably have never left your place of residence, that I've never seen before. (I wonder what else you're hiding.) I like that I thought they were inspired by Kinder Eggs, and admitted they probably were. (Yay, conversations in the real world leading back into blogs!)

    Sorry I thought your horse was a dog with a rocket-powered bottom.

    1. Dammit, if I had teamed up with Kinder I could be rich!

    2. Also I do intend to have some of my 'art' framed and put on the wall, because I like it, but have been putting it off due to it being insufferably egocentric.


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