"There must have been a terrible article in the paper…" Daniel Lanois there, addressing the surprisingly low turnout at Vicar Street. It wasn't me, buddy. Lanois, celebrating 30 years since his first visit to Dublin, has decided to take his studio equipment on the road. Lest we forget, the man in the trucker hat and denim get-up is a producer, first and foremost.
U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan - Lanois has worked with 'em all. But the prolific button-pusher and knob-twiddler is also a dab hand at the steel guitar. What's more, his old buddies have come out for support (we're seated near director Jim Sheridan and artist Guggi).
Lanois is right - this definitely feels like a "private party". Every now and then, the 63-year-old Canadian holds a lamp to his face and forgets about the music.
Lavish, multi-layered soundscapes; alt-rock, instrumental throw-downs; jazzy, electronic stompers - it's all up for grabs, alongside a healthy dose of, um, stand-up smarts - Lanois-style.
A gifted, Californian lad called Rocco DeLuca accompanies Lanois on vocals and steel. There's a "transitional period" involving short films.
A fresh-faced, frighteningly talented drummer by the name of Kyle Crane leaves us speechless. This is experimental art rock, man - there are segments, too, that wouldn't sound out of place on True Detective.
It's a weird gig. Dipping in and out of last year's Flesh and Machine record, among others, tonight's performance has all the look and feel of a sketchy rehearsal - it's as though Lanois is making it up as he goes along. And then he plays I Love You, a straight-up bar-band rock number.
Nah, he's got this. Our enthralling ringmaster finishes up the set by declaring his thirst for a whiskey. He deserves it. After almost three hours, so too, do we. HHHII