Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Two concerts in two months - a record!

We saw The Swell Season at one of the arguably best acoustic venues in town on a recent Thursday night. That said, the venue is usually used for the Symphony, so Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova both seemed to feel a bit formal at first. They said so. After a while, though, they got very comfy and easy with the crowd, so much so that the onstage banter begain to overcome the music.


Glen and Marketa are, if anything, earnest as hell. You know that if you saw their Oscar night speeches and performances. Their lessons to the crowd were lovely and optimistic, and all about "make art, make art" and the like. All in lilting Irish and Irish/Czech brogues.

But I've never been one for stage talk. I like the occasional powerful, funny, or relevant bon mot. Any more than that makes me squirm. Glen and Marketa as people were not annoying, but after a while I wondered if they didn't have enough faith in the music they were making.

Which was astounding!

I think I liked Marketa's song best - "If You Want Me". And "Lies" is so incredibly powerful in the movie "Once" as well as on the album that I almost couldn't believe how excellent it was live. The stage manager did a Steve Earle song, the violinist did some tricks with his on-stage recorder doohicky...and that was all fine and dandy. Why did we need it, though, when Glen's guitar and vocalizing are intense enough to hold a hall spellbound? Marketa is a precise pianist and I really like her voice - she's matured since the album was recorded it seems. The band was great, too. Have faith, Swell Season. You sound divine.

Check out this clip (it's not great, but it gets the job done) from Glen's version of "Astral Weeks" - recorded in Louisville a night or two before our show.

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