Glen Hansard – heart warming, honest and captivating

Sunday night saw Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard bring the weekend to a close as he enthralled the den Atelier crowd for over two hours.

Even though Glen Hansard has an impressive resume, it still seems many people are unaware of just what a great musical talent he is, myself included till last night. The singer-songwriter and actor’s main musical vehicle has been The Frames, which since the early 90s have been a hugely influential Irish band but it’s his big screen rolls in “The Commitments” and “Once”, where he won an Academy Award for Best Song “Falling Slowly”, which has brought him to the wider audience.

Support for the evening came from fellow Frames member Colm Mac Con lomaire who was joined on stage by pianist Romy. Mac Con lomaire demonstrated his compositional skill as well as his technical versatility, switching from violin to acoustic guitar using a series of loops whilst layering up his sound with the piano, adding an extra depth to proceedings. Although instrumental, Mac Con lomaire still managed to bring enough vibrancy and texture to his playing to create its own narrative and open up the evening with a warm Celtic vibe.


Taking to the stage, Hansard and his 11-piece band opened with the Leonard Cohen track “Famous Blue Raincoat”, an emotional entrance after recent events, with Hansard being joined by Javier Mas who has toured with Cohen in the past, and after hearing of Cohen’s death just wanted to play, so has joined Hansard for this European tour.

However, last night was a celebration of life, as Hansard and his band had the crowd swaying, singing, embracing and stomping their feet over the course of over two hours as they delved into the music of The Frames, The Swell Season and his recent solo work which includes the Grammy nominated album “Didn’t He Ramble”, featuring “Winning Streak” which showcased Hansard’s rich vocal tones alongside some incredibly controlled harmonies.

As the night progressed the crowd were taken on a rollercoaster of emotions with the gig feeling like a religious affair at moments with the band slowly pulling back as the audiences singing got louder on “When Your Mind’s Made Up” before the band stopped altogether leaving just the crowd singing alone, then altogether they came crashing back in perfectly on time for a euphoric last verse.

Whilst some moments might have sounded more epic in scale, others were delicate and touching as Hansard took to the piano for the more stripped back “McCormack’s Wall” which had the intimate feel of a small pub show before the strings came in taking us for a jig as the crowd got caught up in the atmosphere clapping and stomping away.

Oscar-winning ballad “Falling Slowly” offered a crowd-pleasing end to the main set but there was still plenty more to come with Hansard returning to the stage to play a solo version of “Say It To Me Now”, perched on the edge of the stage with no mic he sang out over the crowd with the audience reciprocating his emotional outpouring right back at him.

The band were to return to play another few Cohen covers with “Bird On the Wire” and “Who By Fire” before finishing on the rousing “Her Mercy”, sending the crowd off to the best possible start for the week ahead.

After a heart-warming and honest show like that, it’s difficult to not feel uplifted and grateful there are still musicians true to their craft. It just proves there is no need for flashy visuals or stage theatrics as long as you have some well constructed songs and can deliver them with passion and intensity, you will create an atmosphere and emotion that no lights could ever replicate.

den Atelier – 20/11/16


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