Damien's Hall of Horrors

Last Friday night was a musical endurance marathon, featuring an early Damien Rice show at DAR Constitution Hall followed by a late night Jeter gig at Bistro Europa. I don't lay claim to being a huge Rice fan, but I really enjoyed his album "O". Accompanied by the lovely Michelle, I was unpleasantly shocked to discover that Damien was either sick or suffering from a case of strained vocal chords. He struggled mightily to hit those delicate high notes that are a hallmark of several of his songs, notably "Amie" and "Cannonball". When he didn't try to muscle through or dance around the high notes, he sounded fine. The lower range of his husky tenor was largely unaffected by whatever was wrong with him, as was evidenced by the couple of songs that he sang in a lower key to compensate. And maybe I'm just getting old, but I could swear his sound engineer was trying to emulate a Spinal Tap gig. I was just behind the mid-point of the orchestra section, and I was thankful I wasn't closer.