Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Orpheum Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts
Glen Hansard is one of my favorite musicians, and I continue to be shocked that he’s not a household name. He should be. He is a phenomenal storyteller who gives 110% on stage. A seasoned busker, he knows how to connect with an audience and be heard. For those of you who don’t know Glen Hansard, let me introduce you. He’s been the lead singer of Irish rock band The Frames for over 25 years. He was in the 1990 film, The Commitments. He starred in and wrote the music for the acclaimed 2007 film Once. Glen and Markéta Irglová won the Oscar for Best Song with “Falling Slowly” (a song I suspect you’ve probably heard, but didn’t know who wrote it). Once The Musical is now on Broadway, and it’s a lovely adaptation of the film.
There was no question that I’d drive to Boston on a school night to see Glen live at The Orpheum. I met my steadfast concert friend Bob for dinner and we grabbed our great center orchestra seats in time to catch the last few songs of Joe Purdy’s opening set. Arkansas native folk singer-songwriter Joe Purdy was charming and honest. He told us he’d written his last album with a pretty sharp tongue but went home to be with his family for Christmas before he recorded it. He said his wonderful, Saint-like mother told him that if he wanted to make a real impact on people’s lives that he needed to take the anger out of his message. So he went back to California and rewrote the whole record, which was the right thing to do, even if “it was a huge pain in the ass.” Check out “My Country.” I wish we hadn’t missed so much of Joe’s set, and I hope I get the chance to see him again soon.
Glen and his band took the stage and wowed from start to finish. They must have played close to 25 songs, which was such a gift. I was especially happy to hear Glen tell so many stories that inspired his songs. It’s the best part about getting to see your favorites live–when they tell you about their lives and the characters and moments that inspired them. It’s a special thing. Glen opened the show with “You Will Become,” which set exactly the perfect tone. He told us that his next song, “Just to Be the One,” was really about his hard-earned love for his dog. I was thrilled to hear “When Your Mind’s Made Up” from Once early in the set list. Bob leaned over to say how glad he was to hear “Bird of Sorrow,” which is also a favorite of mine. Glen told a long story about Renata–a gritty, honest waitress at a place in NYC who has her own fan club. The band closed their set with “Falling Slowly,” which Glen dedicated to Markéta.
Glen came back to the stage greeted by thunderous applause. He treated us to “Love Don’t Keep Me Waiting” solo, and invited the band back to join him for another five songs. I was over the moon to hear “Say It to Me Now,” which was the opening song of Once, and “This Gift,” which was beautifully featured in the movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Jake Clemons from the E Street Band joined Glen and the band on stage for the last three songs of the night, which included a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Drive All Night.” “Her Mercy” was lovely, and then all of the band and crew, Joe Purdy, and Jake Clemons joined Glen for a spectacular version of “The Auld Triangle,” which I’m so glad someone recorded so I can enjoy it again and again. It was a magical evening, and this was the perfect ending. Please check out Glen Hansard if you haven’t. You can carpool to Boston with me next time he’s in town.