How it’s New York: at New York’s Iconic Carnegie Hall
How it’s Irish: Dublin Singer/Songwriter Glen Hansard
This was one show very close to my heart!
I first met Glen Hansard in Sin-é, an East Village café that was once at the epicenter of hot young Irish rock and Trad culture. He was all curls and wide-eyed wonder, and the enthusiasm and passion he had for music is still going strong nearly 25 years later.
I’ve hungrily devoured all the delicious musical morsels that have poured out of his voice and guitar over the years and the cherry on top was getting to see him reach the pinnacle of a solo show at Carnegie Hall.
The warmth of that hallowed hall made the tone of his songs even sweeter as he launched the show with You Will Become [pullquote]He was jovial and totally at ease, peppering his set with anecdotes and reminiscences [/pullquote] from his debut album, “Rhythm and Repose.” With a stripped-down band consisting of a string quartet (with longtime Frames stalwart Joe Doyle on both upright and electric bass) and additional guitar and drums, the acoustics of the room made it an intimate experience, even from the farthest balcony.
Glen drew on many of the songs from his two solo releases – the 2015 “Didn’t He Ramble” and the 2012 “Rhythm and Repose.” He was jovial and totally at ease, peppering his set with anecdotes and reminiscences about the road to this momentous show. Joining him for Lowly Deserter and Wedding Ring (from “Didn’t He Ramble”) was brilliant Brooklyn trombone player Curtis Fowlkes of The Jazz Passengers and John Laurie’s The Lounge Lizards. There were even a few moments where Glen went totally acoustic, just his voice and guitar filled that historic space with the whole audience hanging on every note.
One standout moment was a story I’ve heard him tell many times before about headmaster Frank Byrne who encouraged him to spread his wings and leave school at age 13 to follow his dream of being a musician. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when Glen made a dedication of the Van Morrison song Astral Weeks to Byrne, then announced to the audience that Mr. Byrne had come over from Ireland and was in the audience! I was lucky enough to chat with Mr. Byrne at the after party and it was a surreal experience for him as well. You can see from the smile on his face that he had a great night!
Always one to include a few friends in his shows, Glen pulled out all the stops and had Marketa Irglová join him for a liltingly lovely rendition of their Oscar-winning song Falling Slowly. The real show-stopper was the arrival of the legendary John Sheahan, the only remaining member of The Dubliners. John backed Glen on fiddle for a few of his songs and a tribute to the late, great Luke Kelly with Raglan Road, which was synonymous with Kelly.
Sheahan then gave us his own composition written for the Casino at Marino (a Dublin landmark), a lively gavotte with John on fiddle along with the string players. The icing on this delicious musical cake was the addition of noted troubadour Brendan Begley on accordion and joining Glen to sing the stirring traditional ballad Óró Mo Bháidín with Glen.
They finished off the night with what has become Glen’s regular closing number, The Auld Triangle,
joined by Marketa and with Glen calling for a verse from his good friend Brendan O’Shea who sang out all the way from the topmost balcony!
But the music wasn’t over yet. Even though the show had ended, Glen and friends decamped to a pub a few blocks away where the party turned into a true hooley. Brendan Begley walked (or, more accurately, climbed) around the bar, ceremoniously turning off all the televisions, then took out his accordion and began to play. He was joined by John Sheahan on fiddle for a set of tunes. The party really got going when various party-goers (including Mundy, Jenna Nichols, Anthony Mulcahy, Brendan O’Shea and even my significant other, Jay Pearlman) got up and sang, danced and carried on with Glen joining in for a few songs as well. A fitting end to an amazing evening, and one that will be hard to beat!
You Will Become
My Little Ruin
When Your Mind’s Made Up
Paying My Way
Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting
Way Back in the Way Back When
Wedding Ring (sung mostly by Curtis Fowlkes – trombone player)
“Nothing On You” (poem read by author Paul Muldoon)
Astral Weeks (Van Morrison song)
Falling Slowly (with Marketa)
Say It To Me Now
Stay the Road
Raglan Road (for Luke Kelly, with John Sheahan and Brendan Begley)
Óró Mo Bháidín (with John Sheahan and Brendan Begley)
The Auld Triangle (with Brendan O’Shea from the peanut gallery)
My Little Ruin
When Your Mind’s Made Up