Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Concert Review - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

OK, who went out and saw the movie Once after my glowing review? No one? That’s what I thought. Well, if you didn’t, you are missing out. It’s a great movie.

Last night I got to see the two main characters from Once, as played by Glen Hansard (from the Irish band The Frames) and Marketa Irglova, perform live at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland. I was not sure what to expect. I knew that Hansard is mega-talented just from the movie but I didn’t know if they would bring a band or what, or if anyone would care.

We got there literally a minute before they went on. Which means we missed the opener Martha Wainwright. The place was sold out – more than 1,300 people. Wow. I was not the only one who thought this movie and its music was something special.

Hansard came out by himself with his beat to shit Takamine acoustic to a huge swell of enthusiastic applause. But then the mooks at the Crystal couldn’t get his guitar through the PA so you know what he did? He asked everyone to be quiet, stepped to the front of the stage and did the damn song by himself with no amplification. To 1,300 very, very quiet people. It was amazing. The song he did was “Say it to Me Now” which is a real screamer. It’s the song that opens the film, for the two of you who took my advice.

Once they got his guitar fixed up, Irglova came out and did a song. She was much less confident but was still cute and captivating, like in the film. Over the night she got better and they actually closed the show with one of her songs. But generally she was better as an accompanist, adding excellent harmonies and piano throughout the night. Would not be the same without her but she was not the star.

They had a bass player (also from The Frames), a cellist and violinist who accompanied the two off and on and that was it. So it was a pretty intimate night. They got all of the movie songs out of the way and the last part of the set was stuff I had never heard and it was more upbeat.

Generally the songs are slow, quiet and a tad morose. But this guy Hansard is funny as hell and his banter in between songs was hilarious. He told great stories, was very genuine and funny. No idea if he tells the same stories every night but it seemed pretty real and it made for a really enjoyable hour and a half show, despite the ‘relationship’ theme of most of the music.

For example, Hansard said they went to Japan to promote the movie, and the president of Takamine guitars gave him a brand new top of the line acoustic. He was pretty flattered until he realized they wanted him to play it because they were embarrassed by the beat to crap cheapo Takamine he used in the movie and uses live (he had it last night – there are huge holes worn into it from years of busking on the street. It’s worse than Willie Nelson’s nylon string if you can believe that). Classic.

A show highlight was when he let the violin guy take a solo spot and he did some crazy pattern, looped it with an effects box and played along with his looped self. The dude was great.

When I reviewed the movie, I couldn’t find any clips of Hansard or Irglova on YouTube but now there is a ton. That goes to show what a promotional tour will do for you! Here are a couple of good ones.

This is the song he did, with no amplification, to open the show. You can see why 1,300 people could hear it regardless.

Note how someone is out of tune at the end of this and blows the ending as well and they all laugh. I love how much emotion Hansard packs into his delivery of this song.

One of the best quality clips I could find...

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