THE Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon will play York Minster tomorrow in his first mainland British date of 2011.

“I am very fond of churches, even if not for the reason they were constructed. I’m well used to them and I kind of enjoy the meditative vibe,” says the urbane Irish chamber pop musician, whose solo show is the first event to be mounted by Tribeca Events, a production company set up in York by producer and arts facilitator Ben Pugh.

“We didn’t go looking for this show,” says Neil. “Apparently, Tribeca Arts are just starting to do shows in places like the Minster and it’s an opportunity that I greatly look forward to.”

He will be performing solo on the piano. “Churches always have a particular acoustic that suits some things better than others, so I’ll be doing it by myself, though it was an easy decision to make as I’ve been doing solo shows for a year and a half.”

Why, Neil? “It was for several reasons. One, I’d been writing my first musical [Swallows And Amazons at the Bristol Old Vic] which I did all on the piano, and the happy part of it is that I’ve become slightly better on the piano,” he says.

“I was never that technical a piano player – I usually left it to others on stage and played the guitar – but I wrote the last album on the piano, and it’s a dead cheap way to tour in this financially tight time, though I wouldn’t do it if I thought the result would be cheap.

“Playing the piano also gives me the chance to ramble on to the audience; it gives me free rein.”

Fronted by Hannon, The Divine Comedy have brightened the day with their intensely individualistic, self-styled chamber pop for more than two decades, right up to last year’s tenth album Bang Goes The Knighthood. Such hits as Something For The Weekend, National Express and The Frog Princess are characterised by Hannon’s whimsy, wit and powers of social observation redolent of Noel Coward.

His music veers from sweeping orchestral arrangements to ghostly synth landscapes, from unadorned folk to gloriously unabashed pop, but he envisages being inclined to focus on his ballads in his Minster set rather than the “punchy ones” as the church sound tends to “space things out and blur the edges”.

“I wonder if they’ll let me play the organ,” he muses. “I did a gig in Oxford or Reading where I played this town hall and they let me play the organ as the encore. It was a bit like Phantom Of The Opera, looking at the back of me.

“What should I play? How about National Express? I might do that because bizarrely it’s one of the hardest things to do on my own because it’s so ‘swung’ and I find it hard to stay in time when I’m playing alone.”

• The Divine Comedy, An Evening With Neil Hannon, at York Minster, tomorrow at 8pm. Tickets cost £25 to £35 on 0844 939 0015 or