Glen Hansard

September 18, 2012

in Concerts


Berklee Performance Center

Engraving of a guitarist

The engaging folk hero of the film Once (2006) in concert with a backup band of ten.

Glen Hansard stepped on a lucky charm when he starred in the film Once (2006), which made him an international celebrity. A musical of the same name, adapted from the film, is now a hit on Broadway.

In concert, he packed them into the Berklee Performance Center and kept his audience thrilled. Much of the audience seemed to be up on Hansard’s latest and greatest and cheered with abandon at most of the songs.

Many of these songs are rhythmic and charming and Hansard sings and plays them with gusto.

He was backed up by a band of ten, including three brass players who presumably came originally from Levon Helm’s band, a couple of violinists, a cellist (Teddy Rankin-Parker, a friend, who invited me to the concert), another guitarist or two, a keyboard player – you get the picture – a lot of backup. I am not sure why all of this was necessary for a folk-rocker of Hansard’s stripe, but it seems to be one of the hallmarks of success in the popular music business. Though some of the orchestrations worked pretty well, it did seem kind of over the top much of the time.

Glen Hansard

Glen Hansard

Hansard has a passionate earnestness that fuels the energy of his performance. But, it strikes me that a smaller, more select, band might help to frame that quality a bit better.

Oddly, the piece that, in many ways, came across best to me was a Bob Marley reggae tune. Hansard, an Irishman, played it beautifully, with just the right energy and punctuation. It was a pleasure to hear.

Hansard waited until the bitter end of the encores to play Falling Slowly,the famous piece from Once. He did that as a solo, and it was sweet and beautiful.

He has a great stage demeanor – spontaneous, off beat, a bit rough in speech, but connected with his audience. It lent a nice air to the whole evening.

An Irish guitar duet named The Lost Brothers opened the show. They did a lot strumming, a bit of finger picking, and though their tunes did not have a particularly original sound, they seemed like a durable and likable pub act that was getting a deserved outing on Hansard’s boat.

– BADMan

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