Jan 30, 2009

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova @ Sydney Opera House

Thursday night at the Sydney Opera House can be summed up in one word. Delightful. Lovely will do as well. It was a night for warm hugs and much hand clapping. A night with extremely warm and charming hosts. It was the night that the songs from Once were brought to life. That little film that could and did. When I saw the film I was struck by its charm and sincerity. Sure, the songs were nice, but they were a little light. Sweet but not hugely memorable. But considering that Glen Hansard is/was the singer from The Frames, I thought a night in his company would be at least very enjoyable. So it proved. A truly delightful night.

Glen opened solo with a Frames song. "Say It To Me Now". It was a great start, with Glen finding his voice and tearing up his guitar. Then he was joined by Marketa and The Frames and they gave us some tunes from the acclaimed movie. As said, I was enjoying these songs, but longed for something a little meatier. It came with another Frames song in "God Bless Mom", which dutily tore up the stage. In fact, many songs on the night rocked out, with the band not holding back in anyway at all. Of course "Falling Slowly" proved a big hit. Why not? It's a delicately beautiful song. It was when Glen went back to solo mode that the night soared to new heights though. Glen told us a story, one of many on the night, about his meeting 20 years earlier with Leonard Cohen. Then, he changed the setlist and gave us a Cohen number. "Famous Blue Raincoat" stopped me dead. It was achingly beautiful and mightily profound. He followed with a riproaring Van Morrison cover in "Astral Weeks". Superb stuff. By the end of the set, the audience was lapping up everything. The band were great and Glen was a great raconteur, telling us tales in his lilting Irish brogue. The man seemed truly humbled by the experience and he was charming to the nth degree.

The encore featured violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire give us a beautiful song of his own. The instrumental "The Court Of New Town" was performed solo, with Colm looping his violin. A very nice touch to the night. We also received an AC/DC cover in "Gimme A Bullet". I guess it was entertaining, but that band's songs all sound the same to me. One more song would finish the night. The whole group came to the front of the stage and performed the Dylan song "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere". The crowd became involved, clapping and singing along. It was a lovely way to finish a delightful and satisfying night.

Set List
Say It To Me Now
Lies
This Low
The Moon
When Your Mind's Made Up
God Bless Mom
If You Want Me? (new song)
Falling Slowly
Leave
Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen cover)
Astral Weeks (Van Morrison cover)
Happiness
Low Rising
Once

If You Want Me
The Court Of New Town
Fitzcarraldo
Gimme A Bullet (AC/DC cover)

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan cover)

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