Wednesday, 11 March 2020

The Concert Riddle

Mine and The Housemate's* favourite band, The Divine Comedy is thirty this year.

To celebrate, Neil Hannon is performing all of his albums across one week. 

So the question is, which show do we go and see?

Now, obviously, we might not be able to get tickets to any of them (I've been to three Divine Comedy concerts now and they sell out fast) and also who knows whether public gatherings in London will be allowed by September.  BUT assuming that we can get tickets and the show goes ahead, how do you pick?

There are five shows, and at each two albums will be performed. This only ignores the first album, which Hannon usually ignores himself, and the newest album which only came out recently and only just had a tour show.

Here are my general thoughts on each album:

Liberation: I don't particularly like it, I figure it is his early one so he hadn't really started doing the style I like yet. Probably my least favourite album. Bernice Bobs Her Hair and The Pop Singer's Fear Of The Pollen Count best songs on the album.

Promenade: I didn't used to like it that much, but then I saw him perform it live and got a new appreciation for it. Probably the album I have the second least strong feelings for. Notable for Going Downhill Fast. Other good song is Don't Look Down.

Casanova: this is the album that The Housemate used to get me to like The Divine Comedy in the first place, so I have a soft spot for it. Also a couple songs have mildly transgender bits in them that I like. Probably the best of the albums I don't have strong feelings for. Has two of my favourite songs, Something For The Weekend and The Dogs And The Horses. Other good songs are The Frog Princess, A Woman Of The World, Through A Long and Sleepless Night and Theme from Casanova.

A Short Album About Love: weirdly came to this one much later than the others, it is a shame it is so short but it's really kind of beautiful. Possibly my favourite album. Has one of my favourites, Everyone Knows (Except You). Other good songs are In Pursuit Of Happiness, Someone, If... and I'm All You Need.

Fin De Siècle: has some really over the top songs on it, which is exactly what I like. Possibly my second favourite album. Notable song is National Express. Other good songs are Generation Sex, Commuter Love, Sweden, Life On Earth, Here Comes The Flood and Sunrise.

Regeneration: honestly get this confused with Liberation, they have similar names and I don't much like either. Probably my second least favourite album. Only good song is Perfect Lovesong.

Absent Friends: don't have much opinion on this one, it has some nice songs. Probably the album I have the least strong feelings for. Notable for Our Mutual Friend. Other good songs are Absent Friends, The Happy Goth and Charmed Life.

Victory For The Comic Muse: this was the first 'new' album that came out after I became a fan, so I still think of it as the new one. One of my favourite albums I guess. Notable song is A Lady Of A Certain Age. Other good songs are To Die A Virgin, Mother Dear, Party Fears Two, Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World and The Plough.

Bang Goes The Knighthood: has some absolutely brilliant songs that I completely love on it, but also a bunch of mediocre ones. Probably my least favourite of my favourite albums, if that makes sense. Notable songs are Down In The Street Below, The Complete Banker and I Like. Other good song is Bang Goes The Knighthood.

Foreverland: actually haven't listened to this enough to have a firm opinion, it's nice. Could end up being one of my favourites. Dunno. Good songs are Funny Peculiar, The Pact, How Can You Leave Me On My Own, A Desperate Man and The One Who Loves You.

The Housemate's preference is for Absent Friends, apparently this is his favourite, which is slightly awkward because it's not the one I would have picked. My gut reaction was for the Casanova/A Short Album About Love show, although I'd also like to see Fin De Siècle.

We have to have decided by tomorrow morning and I am going crazy. When I have to make a choice like this, I get a bit obsessive. I double guess myself. I use statistics, multiple times. And after all that I still just cling to my original gut reaction.

So. The shows are Liberation/Promenade, Casanova/A Short Album About Love, Fin De Siècle/Regeneration, Absent Friends/Victory For The Comic Muse, and Bang Goes The Knighthood/Foreverland.

Now, logically Promenade is out. Because we have already seen Hannon perform this album in its entirety at his 42nd birthday concert. And that's fine because it is paired with Liberation, which I don't particularly think much of.

Then we have also seen the Foreverland concert tour - he didn't do the entire album, but if you have to cut something, then it makes sense for that to go, and when we saw the 42nd birthday concert, Bang Goes The Knighthood was the latest album at the time so I think he did do a few of those songs, so I guess it makes sense to cut this show out. It's a shame, because they are two very jolly albums, but something has to give and this is a unique opportunity so it makes more sense to go for the more obscure stuff.

Practically every album has at least one all time classic song on it, but then Hannon tends to always play these at concerts, so they're not really a reason to vote for one album over another. It's the stuff he never plays that I want to hear.

So now we're down to three shows. As much as I would like to see Fin De Siècle because it is one of my absolute favourite albums, it is paired with Regeneration, which I don't much like, so that would be a waste of half a show.

Which brings us back to the Housemate's preference and my preference. Infuriatingly, they aren't even on consecutive nights so it's not like we could just stay overnight and catch both.

So now for the statistics.

I checked my ratings for each song on my music player. This is a five point system, but I have deleted a handful that I don't like (The Housemate was horrified by this but I don't understand why I would waste bits of my life listening to songs I know I don't enjoy), so those songs count as 0. So just adding the scores for each song,

Liberation/Promenade got 45 points
Casanova/A Short Album About Love got 56 points
Fin De Siëcle/Regeneration got 49 points
Absent Friends/Victory For The Comic Muse got 63 points
Bang Goes The Knighthood/Foreverland got 76 points.

But this is skewed by how many songs are actually on each album. A Short Album About Love is always going to get less points because it is only half as long as Liberation. 

So this is the average rating for each (out of 5)

Liberation/Promenade got 1.80
Casanova/A Short Album About Love got 3.11
Fin De Siècle/Regeneration got 2.33
Absent Friends/Victory For The Comic Muse got 2.86
Bang Goes The Knighthood/Foreverland got 3.17

This still doesn't feel right, because the few songs I don't like are dragging down the songs I absolutely adore. I would rather see a show with a song I'm not keen on if it meant I got to see several songs I love, rather than a whole show of mediocre songs. And Foreverland is skewing the results because I haven't listened to it enough to rate it properly.

So, my final stats. How many songs I love on each versus how many songs I don't like on each.

Liberation/Promenade out of 25 songs, 4 are brilliant, 14 are bad.
Casanova/A Short Album About Love out of 18 songs, 11 are brilliant, 4 are bad.
Fin De Siècle/Regeneration out of 21 songs, 8 are brilliant, 8 are bad.
Absent Friends/Victory For the Comic Muse out of 22 songs, 10 are brilliant, 5 are bad.
Bang Goes The Knighthood/Foreverland out of 24 songs, 9 are brilliant, 3 are bad.

So where has that got me? 

By highest points, Bang Goes The Knighthood/Foreverland wins (and if we ignore that as already vetoed, then second place was Absent Friends/Victory For The Comic Muse).

By highest average rating, Bang Goes The Knighthood/Foreverland wins again, (but if I ignore it as having been vetoed, then Casanova/A Short Album About Love was next).

By highest number of brilliant songs, Casanova/A Short Album About Love wins.

By lowest number of bad songs, Bang Goes The Knighthood/Foreverland wins (and if it is vetoed, then it is Casanova/A Short Album About Love).

By whether there were more brilliant, mediocre or bad songs on the album in general, Casanova/A Short Album About Love and Absent Friends/Victory For the Comic Muse were both brilliant.

By the ratio of how many songs I love compared to everything else on there, Casanova/A Short Album About Love wins.

So basically, Bang Goes The Knighthood/Foreverland and Casanova/A Short Album About Love win, and if BGTK/F is already off the table, then it's Casanova/A Short Album About Love, although Absent Friends/Victory For The Comic Muse is a very close second.

So I'm still stuck. 

* At least, I assume it is his favourite too. The only other bands he mentions with the same regularity are The Beatles and Radiohead.

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