Damien Rice, redux

Back in 2003 I wrote about the experience of seeing a then unknown-to-me Damien Rice at WorkPlay, my favorite little music venue down in Birmingham, AL:

About halfway through the show, I realized what I was seeing. There are two different ways to interpret the word 'performance'; the first implies a simple recitation of a memorized work, and the second implies a live artistic expression. This guy was not just performing, in the latter sense of the word, he was brilliant.

It's rare to see something so breathtaking, and even rarer to recognize the fleeting breath of genius when it whispers in your ear. I put down my camera, draped my chin over the retaining wall in front of me, and listened, constantly fighting the urge to concentrate by closing my eyes. I could listen anytime I wanted, at home, but this was my only chance to see.

I watched, and drank it all in, him getting frustrated with being unable to control loop pedals fast enough with his feet, forcing him to drop to the floor, dragging the microphone with him, alternating between hitting the loop pedals with his hands and strumming over them in a mad dance that left the audience breathless but screaming.

By the encore, people were standing up, intending to clap, and getting lost in the music and forgetting to.

By the time they left the stage and the house lights came up, they had sweat streaming down their faces and the audience was screaming, shouting, stomping, beating on the tables and anything that would stay still. The lion had roared, and now the audience roared back in measure.

I sat at the table, silent, stunned.

I found a youTube video this morning.

It was very much like this ... only more so.