IN a week when the Ireland cricket team's World Cup Twenty20 qualifier against Italy was postponed due to unprecedented rainfall, it was difficult not to think of Rain Stops Play, the delightful instrumental interlude from Duckworth Lewis Method's eponymous 2009 debut.
Quite how daft a concept album about the great game of cricket could come into being in the first place was strange enough but, somehow, Pugwash's Thomas Walsh (aka Duckworth) and Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy (Lewis) managed the feat and must have been astonished at the response. Five-star reviews in the UK, a Top 40 album placing and an unprecedented media response led to an Ivor Novello nomination.
That the album was a pop gem was partly overlooked at the novelty of it all but Walsh and Hannon's mixture of whimsy, melancholia and ELO-influenced pomp worked a treat. What's even more strange, perhaps, is that they managed to match the debut with this year's Sticky Wickets.
Hannon's The Umpire, for example, is a devilishly deceptive ballad about regret and failure while Walsh's Third Man – complete with a spoken section courtesy of Daniel Radcliffe – could perhaps only have been bettered had Jeff Lynne added his vocals on the chorus.
Musical contributions from Crowded House's Neil Finn and Nick Seymour, Cathy Davey and Walsh's long-time collaborator Tosh Flood are rounded out by guest vocal cameos from Stephen Fry and the great and good of Irish and UK comedy.
There's an altogether unfashionable sense of fun and mischief about Duckworth Lewis Method and they actually improve on the songs in a live setting.
Anyone who caught DLM in the Olympia in 2009 or at their Electric Picnic appearances knows that the likes of The Age of Revolution, Meeting Mr Miandad and Mason on the Boundary are made to be played loud and large. Don't miss the chance this week.
Duckworth Lewis Method play the Olympia on Wednesday.