A Swell Evening

22 Nov

Longtime readers of this blog know how much I loved the movie Once when I saw it this past summer.

So when my friend Nina tipped me off that the film’s stars, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, were coming to Boston to do a concert to promote their album, The Swell Season, I didn’t hesitate to get tickets.

And I’m happy to report that while the concert on Wednesday night didn’t recreate the same sense of euphoria that the movie did, it was still a damn good night of music that only makes me love the movie more.

Admittedly, I don’t own the actual Swell Season CD or any of the CDs by Hansard’s other band, The Frames, so I couldn’t easily ID every song played during the one-hour-and-45-minute-long show.

But the two big songs from Once — “Falling Slowly” and “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” both of which were played early on in the set — sounded great.

And as a frontman, Hansard was totally engaging. He plays his music with passion, and more than that, he’s awfully chatty; he told some long, rambling, funny stories, some with little relevance to the music itself.

He also did some good Van Morrison covers; during one (“Astral Weeks,” I think), he was strumming so hard he broke his guitar pick.

Irglová stuck to the background, mostly, except for when she turned in a great, great performance of “If You Want Me.” Still, her piano playing should not be overlooked and deserves equal mention.

I’m sorry that Hansard and Irglová generally kept their distance for most of the show, never once sharing the microphone, and thus denying the audience the pleasure of revisiting the sweet chemistry they demonstrated in Once.

But there’s no denying that together, their voices still produce a beautiful harmony that turns songs like “Falling Slowly” into heartbreaking hymns. (Oh jeez, did I really just write something that pretentious?)

The concert made me more eager for Once‘s release on DVD December 18.

I can’t recommend the movie or the soundtrack highly enough, and I’m so glad the concert didn’t disappoint.

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