My Wednesday was spent at the 9:30 Club with Glen Hansard and his 14-person ensemble. You may be familiar with Glen from his band The Frames, or his minor role in The Commitments or his starring role in the hugely successful Irish indie hit Once.
Side note--if you like music and you have not seen the movie Once, you must stop reading this post and add it to your Netflix queue immediately. (Everyone focuses on "Falling Slowly" which is a beautiful song but my favorite from the film is "Leave")
This review will be completely biased because I love Glen--and, let's be honest, who doesn't love an angst-y, Irish ginger?
He's like an Irish Springsteen--he leaves it all out on the stage every night (Except the night a few years ago in Baltimore, when he admitted that they went on a bender the night before and he was hungover.) Glen's passion while performing demands the audience's attention, and he loves conversing with the audience in between songs--so its a very intimate experience, regardless of the size of the venue. They played 2+ hours and half-way through this show he noted how much he loves playing 9:30 Club, and after the show he tweeted that the evening was a "shot in the soul" so I'm not exaggerating here.
Glen famously dropped out of high school and started his career busking on Dublin's streets. He still has the heart and drive of a busker, despite his sustained success. Plus, he's legitimately talented. And yes, those are holes in his guitar (see clips below)--he wore holes in his guitar from strumming.
The band included his mates from The Frames, some additional strings, the horn section from the Levon Helm band and two women from a DC choir who joined him in performing at Sargent Shriver's funeral last year. They played some tunes from his new album, some Frames hits, and some covers: Justin Timerblake's Cry Me a River, Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, Springsteen's Drive All Night. They also wove a few covers into Glen songs: RESPECT and Redemption Song. I've been to other shows when he weaves in "Ring of Fire" and the "Pure Imagination" song from the 1970's version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He ended the show (as he does many shows) with the Irish pub song, "The Parting Glass" and shots of whiskey for the entire band.
He's the kind of performer that draws you in, wins you over and makes you a fan for life--even if you don't like his kind of music. You can't leave a show in which Glen is performing, and say you had a boring evening. Here's a sampling from YouTube:
This one is for KQ--Glen & Eddie Vedder singing the Once mega-hit "Falling Slowly"
And this is classic Glen performing Astral Weeks--it's just him and his guitar and ALL OF THAT SOUND
Second show was Dirks Bentley at Nats Park following Saturday's game when the Nats crushed the Brewers and Gio Gonzalez earned his 20th win. NATITUDE!!! That show sounded fine as we were leaving the park...but I'm not a big country music person, so I can't be 100% sure. We did notice a lot of people in the stands who seemed to be country music fans--there were some redic outfits pairing cowboy boots and shorts or sundresses. And I think some of the Nats players like Dirks, so I'm sure they had fun.
Next up on Music Mondays: Emmet Swimming (hello 90's) and then in a few weeks I'll review that TV show Nashville. Yes, it's country music, but there's no way I can hate a show with Tami Taylor as the lead. Even if she is playing a washed up country star.
[Hoping Clarence and Marls can add their recap of the NJ Springsteen show--assuming they remember the evening.]