THERE’S a strong theatrical element to many Divine Comedy songs – so Neil Hannon and his band delivered an appropriately dramatic performance in Bexhill.

Hannon used a bowler hat and umbrella to deliver the acidic duo of Bang Goes The Knighthood and The Complete Banker, later changing into a Napoleon costume in order to sing songs about Sweden and hot air ballooning. It made sense at the time.

It was all good fun, but the band didn’t really need gimmicks. Generation Sex was rocky and funky, while the elegant Certainty Of Chance and the melancholy Lady Of A Certain Age showed their originality and verve.

Hannon is well known for his quixotic lyrics (new song Catherine The Great was a highlight) but less appreciated for his singing voice, which was strong and emotive. Meanwhile, his band cleverly rearranged some of the more orchestral numbers, with a melodeon providing a classy touch.

There were a few hiccups, but it came over as endearingly shambolic when Hannon mixed up the words of the otherwise gorgeous Our Mutual Friend, or had to ward off applause during a pause in The Frog Princess.

The band urged the audience to dance in the aisles – and a strong encore made the request irresistible to virtually everyone.