Damien Rice leaned into the mic and mumbled, "This one is about messing it up even more than the previous," and he was into another delicate song about a broken love. Bed hair and all, he arrived on stage at the World Cafe Live a good half hour late - transportation troubles, they announced. He said he was a little disoriented - just awakened at 12:30 p.m. - his bus having traveled all night from his last gig, in New York City. You wonder what route they took.
It didn't matter. The eight songs he picked out to play for the full lunchtime house were spell-binding, whether it was Rice on the Rhodes electric piano, or gently picking his guitar, backed by a cellist, percussionist, bassist and Lisa Hannigan on vocals. This was really lovely stuff, even if he stuck to the "low songs," as he called them. He said he wasn't sure he could hit any of the high notes, given the indelicate hour. When he had to, though, he soared.
"A skinny, young, Gentile, Leonard Cohen," my English-prof pal observed, adding Irish and dreamy.
Before ending with "Volcano" and "The Blower's Daughter" from O, the slight, blue-eyed Rice addressed the adoring crowd once more: