Those of you who've been with me for a while may remember my glowing review of the movie Once last summer. At that point I was insanely jealous of anyone who had actually seen the couple from the movie, who perform as The Swell Season, in concert. Now I am happy to announce that I, too, am among their ranks.
The Swell Season--Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová--plays the last of their three sold-out concerts tonight at the Chicago Theater, and I had the pleasure of seeing their show last night. It definitely lived up to my high expectations.
I thought that perhaps it would be just the two of them on stage (as that's how they've performed on Leno and whatnot), but they actually had other members of Glen's band, The Frames, playing guitar, drums and violin, as well as another random dude from Chicago playing guitar as well.
For those of you who followed my advice and downloaded the Once soundtrack... they played eight out of its eleven tracks, including their Oscar-winner, "Falling Slowly," and my two personal favorites, "When Your Mind's Made Up" and "Say It To Me Now."
One of the highlights of the evening was the very short "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy," before which Glen shouted out to the audience to see if "Ethan" was there. Then a young boy, who was seated up in the balcony not too far away from me, yelled, "I'm here! I'm here!" and everyone else was like, "Saaaay whaaat?"
Long story short, this kid had recorded somewhat of a YouTube sensation after the movie came out, in which he sang the aforementioned song. The band was told about it, and Glen ended up emailing back and forth with the kid--Ethan--who is now seven. So he was at the show last night and Glen brought him down on the stage to sing it. Here is the original YouTube video... it's not like it's that entertaining... but I think the fact that a six-year-old (at that point in time) is singing it is what people found humorous.
For me, the best part of the show was when Glen was completely alone with his guitar (still the beat-up one with a huge hole in it!), sat down on the steps of the stage and belted out "Say It To Me Now" with no microphone. The Chicago Theater is seven stories high and holds 3,600 people, so that was a pretty bold move, don't you think? Anyway, I was up in the highest balcony, and since the audience was dead quiet as he sang, you could still hear him perfectly (there's a lot of emotion in the song, so he's kind of yell-singing, which helped) and it was just a very powerful experience. Everyone straight-up exploded in applause after that one.
Besides the Once songs (some of which were actually originally Frames songs, I just found out), they also sang some Frames tunes, a few songs that I assume may be on an upcoming album, and a very cool cover of "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison.
They played for over two hours, spoke a lot with the audience (well, Glen did, Markéta was a bit quieter), and truly seemed like they loved performing and were overly-thankful for their newfound success. He used to sing on the streets in Dublin--damn right he's thankful!
As a side note, some friends of my future sister-in-law's saw the duo at a restaurant during brunch on Sunday and got a picture with them, and reported that they were extremely nice. I have also heard that they have played outside after concerts have ended to waiting fans who weren't able to get into sold-out shows. I think some of the current pop and rap divas out there could learn a lesson or two from The Swell Season, don't you?
Once is now out on DVD if you missed it in theaters. And if you have still not bought its soundtrack... seriously--what else do I have to say?