A SLIGHT, bearded, immaculately dressed man wanders on to the stage accompanied by five others, also suited and booted.

Two hours and 23 songs later he wanders back off to rapturous cheers, by then dishevelled, sweating and dressed as Napoleon.

Welcome to the wacky world of Neil Hannon, where things are done properly, where the band lines up symmetrically and where the mainman even stops to serve them drinks from his cocktail cabinet.

Hannon’s sublimely idiosyncratic orchestral organisation The Divine Comedy has never really received an appropriate level of acclaim.

The quirky combo – generally multi-instrumentalist Hannon and an often revolving door of associates – are touring solidly this autumn and have a limited edition 17-track live album, Loose Canon, out now.

Hannon’s second best attribute is marvellous, catchy, foot-tapping pop tunes, occasionally veering jazzwards and generally getting heavier as the evening wore on.

His best attribute, however, is his clever, intelligent, off-centre lyrics – rivalling prime cut 10cc or, say, Randy Newman for wit, wisdom and laugh-out-loud lines.

He tackled many subjects – such as self-delusion on Napoleon Complex (hence the garb), a version of history with Catherine The Great, men’s foibles on How Can You Leave Me On My Own – but often returned to romance, all done with tongue firmly embedded in cheek.

The Hannon classics were there – including Something For The Weekend, Generation Sex, National Express, Neapolitan Girl, Down In The Street Below, Everybody Knows (Except You), A Lady Of A Certain Age and To Die A Virgin.

I also enjoyed At The Indie Disco with its thumping Blue Monday middle section and a faithful cover of Peter Sarstedt’s ’60s ballad Where Do You Go To My Lovely.

Son of a bishop Hannon may slightly resemble a shorter Peter Crouch from a distance – and with the full lighting effects behind him – but thankfully not much robotic dancing was evident.

Proceedings ended with the gorgeous Tonight We Fly and Hannon withdrew along with his excellent five-piece band who were all still nattily dressed, except the drummer whose physical exertions meant he was allowed the concession of removing his jacket.

As I said, things were done properly.