Damien Rice exceeds expectations
Magic hour filled with candid music, a cappella, wine
By Noh Hyun-gi
Damien Rice, famed Irish singer-songwriter best known in Korea for “The Blower’s Daughter,” the track that featured in the movie “Closer,” came to Korea as the fourth artist of the Hyundai Card Culture Project. The project invites world-class artists like John Legend, Mika, and Comedie Francaise.
During the two-hour show at the Olympic Hall in Olympic Park, Seoul, Wednesday, Rice captivated local fans not only with his musical talent, but also with humor and honest recounts of moments that inspired his songs.
Rice walked up to the stage with an acoustic guitar with shaggy hair and hipster-like attire, looking shockingly different from the neat face on the posters. He began with “The Professor & La Fille Danse,” from his 2005 album “B-sides.”
His signature un-styled vocals went on to express angry lust and hopeless self-loathing in masterfully written tracks like “Delicate,” “Fool,” and “9 Crimes.”
The magic truly became apparent in the middle of signing “Volcano,” a mid-tempo number from his debut solo album“O.” Rice invited people from the audience to come up to the stage to sing with him. The crowd hesitated for a moment, but when Rice said “Now, we can see the shyness of Koreans,” more than 50 people bolted up to the stage. Dividing into three groups, the artist sang with the people about a romance that failed to meet expectations.
He commented jokingly, as the audience members went back to their seats, “Damien is making note to himself; Koreans are crazy!”
The heat of the show carried on as he performed songs such as “Eskimo,” “Rootless Tree” and “Woman like a Man.” Rice shared anecdotes about how the songs came to his mind with many jokes — some inappropriate — which deepened the experience.
The singer said he was inspired to write “Eskimo” when he was struggling to write a fast song and threw the guitar against a wall out of frustration. “Amie” was written as when he went over to his friend’s, depressed, and stayed over in her room so he could have some time alone watching the stars through the huge window there.
After finishing “I Remember,” he suddenly stepped away from the microphone to the edge of the stage. Then, with only one light on him, his raw voice singing “Cannonball,” another gem from his debut album, filled the stadium. He left the stage, leaving the bemused crowd in complete darkness.
As the crowd expected, Rice came back for an encore to perform “The Blower’s Daughter” The crowd let out a short gasp when the song that made the Top 10 in the United Kingdom started.
But the show was not over. A woman came onstage, and sat with the singer on a table. Rice whipped out a bottle of wine and started telling yet another story. The crowd laughed as he confessed to buying wine for a stranger — the couple kept downing glasses of wine meanwhile — who he assumed was going to stay with him that night until she left to meet her boyfriend. Then as the woman ran off, he started singing “Cheers Darlin,” which starts: “Cheers darlin’: Here’s to you and your lover boy. Cheers darlin’: I got years to wait around for you,” tripping around the stage as if drunk.
Rice crawled up on a bench at the end of the bitter song and bid farewell to the enchanted crowd.