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Damien Rice x2 [Shanghai, May 22nd 2016]

center-stage damien rice shanghai
My second Damien Rice concert... and again a unique experience which will not be forgotten. I was fortunate to catch him while on a trip in Shanghai - an evening full of nice surprises...

I'll never forget my first Damien Rice live experience: july 2015 in Paris. I was expecting a good show - and his show in the Grand Rex turned out to be mind-blowing great.

So when I saw that he was going to be playing in Shanghai while I was there on a business trip, I wanted to go and see him again. He was playing 2 shows - one at 3pm and one at 8pm. Both sold out. So I checked the 2nd hand ticket market... asked the hotel concierge to arrange for a ticket... but in all cases they were asking x4 of the face value... a bit much given that the good tickets were 480-680 RMB (70-100$).

I went down to the venue more than an hour before the show - in order to secure a ticket from the local ticket scalpers (yellow cow)... which was surprisingly easy, cost me just x2 the face value, and got me a third row seat (!) in a great venue: Shanghai Symphony Hall. A small venue, with a stage which is barely 20 inches high, and with seating both in front and in the back of the stage. Damien's modest light setup which he uses during this tour didn't even fit on the stage... and was reduced by half for this occasion !

Damien did not disappoint... starting with "Delicate" he meandered through his set of heartbreaking, fragile and intense songs. Interacting with the audience, and introducing "I Don't Want To Change You" as his only real love song. The most memorable moment during the concert started during Volcanoes... when he paused to ask a female fan on-stage to perform the female voice. A girl enthusiastically made her way down, but before she could walk on stage, Damien changed his mind, and decided he wanted 20-30 female voices on stage. Some 50-odd people stood up from their seats, hurrying down the steps. That was the sign for more people to get up and go down, which then encouraged more people... completely taking security by surprise (they were standing at the entry/exit doors, not watching the stage) and crowding the entire stage until there was no space left. Damien continued to play "Volcanoes" turning his on-stage fans into the 2nd and 3rd voice of the song - and continued with "9 Crimes" after which he quickly ran off stage while security cleared the podium. When he came back, he apologized for running backstage, but explained he had no other option as he couldn't move anymore or get to his instruments...

fans onstage

All set long he didn't touch any other instrument than his guitars (and the loop pedals of course)... all the way to the last song... It Takes A Lot To Know A Man... which he started by messing up the lyrics, but he didn't pause or restart, just pressed on, and layer by layer added more instruments... and turned the song into an ever more powerful anthem... until he decided the show was over - but of course he returned for some encores.

During the Paris concert, he didn't play The Blowers Daughter - which was pretty amazing given that it is undoubtedly his most popular song across his fan base (while Cannonball is likely his biggest commercial hit song). And for the longest time, it seemed he would also skip the song during the Shanghai show... but he changed his mind and brought it as the very last encore song... And other than the fact that this is just a perfect Damien Rice song, something else was magic... In the middle of this song, there is a female background vocal, singing just three lines of text:

Did I say that I loathe you?
Did I say that I want to
Leave it all behind?

Beautiful moment of #damienrice live in #shanghai from Rebecca Chen on Vimeo.

During the Shanghai show, these three lines were sung by all the female voices in the audience, as on queue, and it just sounded perfect. Better than the record. Simply amazing... Someone else thought this moment was unique... and posted a short 18 seconds video on Vimeo - worth checking out (click the video above). Thank you Rebecca Chen for sharing !

shanghai 2016 05 22 Damien Rice

A few days later... Damien performed in Hong Kong, and also there managed to put forward a unique set... including inviting a female fan on stage to have a bottle of wine with her while performing his anti-love song Cheers Darlin' - read an enthusiastic review here. Even more daring than asking fans on stage, in Hong Kong he decided to continue the show outside the venue - just him and his guitar... Unfortunately, I wasn't there...