21 October 2015 (gig)
26 October 2015
Dublin based brothers Brían and Diarmuid Mac Gloinn of Ye Vagabonds introduced the largely thirty-something Shepherds Bush crowd to a blend of their traditional folk music perfectly setting up the evening’s entertainment.
Not long after, and with the stage set up in homely fashion, complete with a painting adorning the 'back wall' Glen Hansard invited us into his front room to meet his nine-piece band with the pensive ‘Grace Beneath the Pines’.
There are standing lights each one floodlighting an individual band member with the intensity changing according to their actions a simple yet very effective tool, which naturally guides the eye throughout the set.
By the time fourth song, ‘When Your Mind's Made Up’ by The Swell Season, was in full flow, it was clear that we were in for a rollercoaster ride through the emotions.
In a black shirt, jeans and full beard Hansard tells tales which twist and turn your heart. A songwriter of the highest caliber he has that personal knack of imparting his tale to each and everyone as if whispering in your ear.
A storyteller and raconteur he places you in the heart of the song before it even commences. There is a theatrical element to his show too, an area he (and the audience) is clearly familiar with, the selected songs from his successful musical ‘Once’ all greeted with welcome cheer.
Trombone, violins, trumpet, drums, piano, bass, all can be heard in the arrangements and of course the all-important vocal floats masterfully over the top. Probably something of a control freak, he seems to know everything that's happening at any given time, occasionally signaling to dampen or heighten the tone, a conductor weaving a rich tapestry of sound.
What is most appealing is Hansard’s unselfconscious charm; he seems unconcerned with being cool which ironically makes him exactly that.
It doesn't matter what song he plays you could just listen to him all night, he conveys emotion so well, surrounded by masterful musicians sometimes that when holding back, the refrain is palpable making the release all the more explosive.
The set lasts over two hours and after one encore Hansard reappears on the first balcony with his guitarist playing acoustic as the audience hush to hear. A welcome treat as I was only a couple of seats behind.
Whether at full pelt with his band or during his solo acoustic moments Hansard remains magnetic, mesmerizing and magnificent. A treat for the ears.
1. Grace Beneath the Pines
2. Winning Streak
3. My Little Ruin
4. When Your Mind's Made Up (The Swell Season song)
5. Bird of Sorrow
6. Leave (The Swell Season song)
7. Back Broke (The Swell Season song)
8. Come Away to the Water
9. Talking With the Wolves
10. McCormack's Wall
11. Lowly Deserter
12. Way Back In The Way Back When
13. High Hope
14. Hold On Magnolia (Songs: Ohia cover)
15. This Gift
16. Say It to Me Now (The Frames song)
17. Gold (Interference cover)
18. Falling Slowly (The Swell Season song)
19. The Auld Triangle
20. Her Mercy