There aren’t many gigs in Dublin that finish at 1am after a staggering 33 songs. Then again there aren’t many performers with as much passion for what they do as Glen Hansard. Arriving home after a seven month world tour, he takes the stage accompanied by three piece brass ensemble, a four piece string section led by Colm Mac Con Iomaire and the remainder of The Frames, Graham, Joe and Rob. The mere assemblage of the revered group is enough to set the audience’ teeth on edge; it takes nothing for Hansard to feel at home in Vicar St and spends the night as you might expect – sharing stories and drawing the crowd in to each track.
Opening with ‘You Will Become’ the evening starts with a quick fire of tracks from his latest, Rhythm And Repose; ‘Philander’ is the first moment of the night where the crowd join Glen in unison, filling Vicar Street with a beautiful chorus which continues into ‘Love Don’t Keep My Waiting’. As expected, there is an even cross section to suit any fan during the night, playing tracks by The Frames and The Swell Season going as far back as ‘Another Love Song’ for an interesting acappella run through of ‘The Dancer’ with Graham. The typical ‘belters’ of the night rile the crowd; the evocative ‘Bird Of Sorrow’ and ‘Leave’ are offset with a feedback laden ‘Revelate’ and ‘Star Star’; Mac Con Iomaire’s Christmas interlude literally reducing grown men to tears.
Between the songs the usual crowd interaction came and a particularly poignant thank you: “Rob, Graham, Joe, Justin, Colm… We are The Frames. You’ve had so much grace and patience with me so I thank you from the bottom of my heart”. Peppered among the set were a number of well-chosen covers the greatest of which, ‘Skylarkin’ defaults to the most emotional performance of the night, pleading for Mic Christopher to come to the stage. Accompanied by guests throughout including his niece, Amy Hansard – a talented little singer – Lisa Hannigan makes an appearance to perform ‘A Sail’ and ‘Falling Slowly’ before returning for one last hurrah, an unplugged and very intimate version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Passing Through’.
It was interesting to see that once the set list was finished and the “messy hour” had begun, Glen took a minor role in proceedings allowing Colm to perform an instrumental track of his own and shared the limelight with Liam O Maonlaí who almost cleared the house with an Our Father as gaeilge before redeeming himself with ‘Forever Young’, Dylan drawl and all.
It’s easy to see why Glen Hansard is revered the world over and even more so in Dublin. He was simply at home in the space; he instilled a sense of community into a venue full of strangers and brought them together for what O Maonlaí calls “inspirational and perspirational space”. It’s hard to dislike a man like that; there are no airs of graces. He’s a Ballymun boy at heart with all the care in the world for those that helped him to where he is today; you don’t hear every Oscar winner and Grammy nominee dedicating songs to ex-principals or friends called “Ducky”. One of a kind.