Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Swell Season--or--The "Once" Duo in Concert

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?

- e


Anonymous said...

I, too, share a love with all things Hansard & Irglova. My fiance & I are seeing them in September.

If you dig the stuff from Once, you should definitely check out The Frames stuff. It's just as good.

Anonymous said...

Hi E,

I am the friend of JB's who met Marketa and Glenn. They were really nice--I felt so bad interrupting their brunch though! They were with two other people, who maybe are members of The Frames (I wasn't sure).

My one regret though is that I didn't tell Glenn that I loved him in The Commitments, which is my all time favorite movie. I didn't know until I read an interview with him that he was in it (he played the guitar player with big red hair I think).

I am really jealous you got to see them in concert. They are coming to Boston in September and I am hoping to go see them then.

Love your blog and your Lost recaps btw!

Anonymous said...

Oh! I meant to ask...did Iron & Wine open for them?

Erika (aka "e") said...

CinematicallyCorrect - Yes, I need to get on buying some Frames stuff right away! And it was some dude named Daniel Martin Moore who opened. I didn't really dig him, but others seemed to. I wish it had been Iron & Wine.

Bonnie - I am sure Glen sensed your love for him in The Commitments (now I have to see that!). Where was it that you saw them at brunch?

- e

Anonymous said...


Having just downloaded the soundtrack from "Once", I fully agree with you. It is amazing stuff and it's straight on my iPod for future listens

Good advice

Zach Dionne said...

Hey E!

Jeez, I feel dumb. I searched a bit for this before I ASKED you on Facebook if you'd gone, but apparently I didn't look very hard.

Awesome review. We have the same favorites from the movie, probably because they're the best :) I've noticed in a lot of YouTube videos what you pointed out - that they seem so utterly happy to be playing. It doesn't surprise me one bit...Glen wrote "Say it to Me Now" something like 10+ years ago, and look how incredibly passionate he is in the movie - and I'm sure live - when he plays that. It's like he wrote it in the heat of the moment the day before. He's unbelievable.

Were Glen and Marketa wicked cute? I hope they play this when I see them (also a perfect example of said wicked cuteness):

Anyway, very happy that you got to see this and that you'll be getting more into The Frames. This should probably be the week I finally buy Once and start my grassroots campaign of bringing it to everyone's house and making them watch it :)