Damien Rice's reputation precedes him; mysterious, haunting, captivating, emotional, plaintive, absorbing, such superlatives would fit when you get lost in the music and songs of this Irishman known for his introspective and emotionally raw songwriting style.
It's been a fair dollop of years since he was last seen in this region on tour, so Malaysian fans had to have been stoked to suddenly hear news that organisers had managed to tag on a few more shows on to the end of an already confirmed Asian tour. With Kuala Lumpur being one of those, duly enough tickets were snapped up for his appearance on a balmy hot evening night earlier this month on the 7th June 2023 in the middle of the city to sing to his fans here in person.
On a stripped down, almost bare stage, it was just one man and his guitars (plus a piano) who held the night, with just the one backup in the cellist Francisca Baretto who also acted a most able second and backing vocals as well.
With his appearance preceded by a handy and most able brief opening set from local rising singer songwriter Liesl-Mae providing warm vibes, it was a concert from Rice for many to remember.
Now if you're feeling sad or down, be prepared to feel even more down, or at least that's what it hilariously sounded like when he joked about it near the beginning of his offerings. There's a sense of really understated humour; hesitant almost, and self deprecating in a melancholy way and you could argue that this is what endears him; Damien Rice to the tee.
It was as intimate a concert as it can get, as he sang the songs covering his output over his three albums – O, 9 and My Favourite Faded Fantasy – and an EP release – B-Sides with a few newer tunes add to the night.
The Professor & la fille danse kicked off the concert here, a bold choice of a B-side to start things off for Rice, before rifling through the next 100 minutes with his melancholic goodies covering his discography. Songs sung included the likes of Delicate, Canonball, I Don't want to Change You, Astronaut (new song), Volcano, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, 9 Crimes, Older Chests, Black and Blue, Coconut Skins, The Box, Behind Those Eyes (new song).
The even more intimate part of the concert followed, when, at the first invite from Damien himself, half the audience duly abandoned their seats and headed straight to the front of the stage for the last song of his main set and then for encores such as Amie, Rootless Tree and I Remember before he finally closed with his classic breakout first hit from over two decades ago, The Blower's Daughter.
In a nutshell, that's what the nearly 100 minutes mid week offering from this most melancholic of singer songwriters had to offer and this must have been a melancholy dream come true for his adoring crowd here. While it may well be years before he tours the region again, for at least one mid week night here in Kuala Lumpur, fans definitely got something of a concert of a lifetime from this Irish troubadour.
Brought to you by Lushington Entertainment, Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice performed live in Malaysia 7 June 2023 (Wednesday) at the Plenary Hall, KL Convention Centre as part of his 2023 Asian Tour that saw him perform at the Seoul Jazz Festival, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, and Hong Kong.