To say folk music has evolved with the aging of time would be an amazing understatement. For the most part the roots are still intact and the message still the same. The contemporary folk artist can't help but be compared to their predecessors. That being said, Damien Rice has managed to make a name for himself by embracing those ideals and growing the sounds into his vision of the genre.
The last time Rice was in town he played the Saenger and could have readily done so again, but opted to play the less constrictive Civic Theatre instead. His distorted acoustic guitar found every nook and hiding place in the historic venue. While his banter with the crowd was minimal at best, when it was present it was on point. The smoke-filled Hollywood-lit stage painted wonderful pictures all throughout the evening and was highlighted on a few occasions as the music got more intense. The crowd did a great job policing itself so that every note could be heard; it still baffles me why a person has the need to yell at such an intimate show, other than the fact of just hearing himself.
The main set ended with a nine-minute cataclysmic version of “It Takes a Lot to Know a Man.” Rice started off simply with his acoustic guitar. By midpoint of the song he started looping instruments, beginning with his vocals, then guitar, chimes, clarinet, symbols, and back to his distorted guitar. All the loops grew on top of each other creating an amazing clash of sounds. Perfectly synched to the mayhem on stage, a growing light show grew around him and by the end, completely overtook him. The encore, believe it or not, rivaled in some ways the last song of the main set, as Rice went completely unplugged to perform “Colour Me In” and “Cannonball,” while sitting down at the foot of the stage. This theme was pulled outside when Rice made a surprise appearance and played sitting down on the sidewalk in front of the Civic.