Tonight I was at Glen Hansard in Vicar Street. Tickets were €30.00 (including booking fee). He played two nights in a row, both of which were sold out.
The support on the night came from ‘Seti The First’. As support acts go they were quite a strange choice. There was no singing at all just the use of various instruments ranging from the cello to the drums. They were undoubtedly a very talented group but maybe not the best choice for a night like this as the crowd was pretty bored throughout. If they were playing to a different crowd maybe they would have received a better reaction but tonight they just fell flat.
Before I go any further I should make it clear that I am a huge Glen Hansard fan and I have been for years. I managed to sneak into one of The Frames concerts in Carlow when I was about 16 (sorry about that lads) and have been obsessed with everything to do with them since.
This gig was the last night of a seven-month trip around Europe, some people may presume that the set would be routine with the band just happy to be home. When Glen Hansard is involved routine is never to be expected.
The night started off strong with songs from his new solo album ‘Rhythm and Repose’ which sound just as good live as they are on the album. With 12 people on stage divided between strings, brass percussion and keys the sound could not have been better. All of ‘The Frames’ are part of the 12 so the crowd expected a lot.
It wasn’t long before Mr. Hansard started with his anecdotes, something he has become famous for over the years. His story introducing the song ‘Philander’(video below) had the crowd giggling away like kids as he describes it as being “about the girl you discovered ‘your bits’ with”. ‘Love Don’t leave Me Waiting” is next up, the crowd goes crazy for the rendition of the Aretha Franklin hit RESPECT which is added in at the end. The first song not from the album was ‘Seven Day Mile’ (a personal favourite of mine).
The set carries on with Hansard telling the crowd how himself and his best friend Mic Cristopher used to sit in their flat and drink while listening to ‘Van Morrison’ and ‘The Doors’. We are treated to a Van Morison cover which included the ‘Pearl Jam’ song “Smile” as an outro. Being a huge Pearl Jam/Eddie Vedder fan this was a huge treat.
I won’t go through every song in the set list (which can be seen below) individually as I would be here forever!
The night was special on more than one level. In the crowd were previous teachers from Hansard’s short time in Holy Spirit Ballymun Secondary School. After a brief conversation with a previous teacher he launched into ‘High Hope’.
Towards the end of the set all of ‘The Frames’ were on stage together and they set into fan favourites ‘Revelate’, ‘Star Star’ and ‘Pavement Tune’.
After returning to the stage for their encore Glen Hansard invites on his niece Amy to sing “The Gift” with him which was very impressive! Being the last night he made a sneaky request for a few pints to be brought on stage. After a tribute to Levon Helm of ‘The Band’ where they played Marvin Gaye ‘Baby Don’t Go’ the pints arrived and vanished down their necks just as quick! Seven months in the road obviously creates quite a thirst!
The fantastic Lisa Hannigan is invited on stage and accompanies Glen on the Academy Award Winning song ‘Falling Slowly’ much to the crowds delight.
In a touching tribute he dedicated ‘Fitzcaraldo’ to his old principle that gave him unprecedented support when he was in Holy Spirit School.
This was the official end to the set. In typical Glen Hansard fashion he decides to “have some fun”. With the set entering into its third hour (Springsteen eat your heart out) violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire impresses the audience and band members with a solo piece and a recitation of Irish folk song ‘Spencer The Rover’. After paying tribute to Mic Christopher by singing ‘SkyLarkin’ the unique Liam O Maonlaoi saunters on stage and gives a beautiful rendition of the Bob Dylan classic ‘Forever Young’. The night draws to a close with a cover of the little known Lenard Cohen song “Passing Through”. Stepping away from their microphones everyone sits on the front of the stage and starts to serenade the crowd without any help from amplifiers. This is where the magic really started.
At the end of the song all 15 people on stage form a line and march off stage, instruments in hand and walk into the crowd. The audience separate and allow the musicians to congregate in the center of Vicar Street. With the night feeling like a lock in at your local pub they all launched into an extended version of ‘Heyday’. As they all stroll off singing the chorus of the Mic Christopher hit the crowd assumes this is the end of the night only to be shocked again when they hit the stage one more time!
A beautiful rendition of ‘The Auld Triangle’ brings a close to one of the most sensational concerts I have ever been to. At 1:10am the final notes are played and the night is over. The weary crowd leaves Vicar Street knowing that they have just witnessed one of the great gigs of the year. A four hour set comprising of more than 30 songs for just €30.00 is amazing value for money. If Hansard is ever playing near you I cant recommend going to see him enough.
You Will Become
Talking With The Wolves
Lover Don’t Leave Me Waiting (R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Aretha Franklin Outro)
Seven Day Mile
Low Rising Sun
When Your Mind’s Made Up
Bird Of Sorrow
Lay Me Down (Ring Of Fire –Johnny Cash outro)
Astral Weeks (Van Morrison Cover) w/ Pearl Jam – Smile outro
Star Star w/ Twinkle Twinkle + Pure Imagination reprise
Song Of Good Hope
The Gift accompanied by Amy Hansard
Baby Don’t Do It (Marvin Gaye Cover)
A Sail (Lisa Hannigan)
Falling Slowly accompanied by Lisa Hannigan
Colm Maclomaire Violin Solo
Spencer The Rover (Irish Folk Song)
Sky Larkin (Mic Christopher Cover)
Forever Young accompanied by Liam O Maonlaoi
Passing Through (Lenard Cohen Cover)
Heyday (Mic Christopher Cover)
Auld Triangle (Irish Folk Song)
For more information on Glen Hansard have a look here