Friday, April 25, 2008

A Swell Season Indeed

Well, adult night out did not disappoint in the least as Diane and I thoroughly enjoyed the opening leg of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's Swell Season tour at the beautiful Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix. The event transcended the mere concert experience. It was more of a celebration of Glen and Marketa's achievements through the movie Once, with a thousand of their closest friends in attendance. The movie has had such a profound impact upon so many people, and this concert setting was the perfect opportunity for audiences to give back to it's two main characters. The energy in the theater was unlike anything I have experienced in a concert setting before. Glen set the intimate tone by coming out solo to the very front of the stage, sans microphone, and performing Say It To Me Now, recalling his gut-wrenching street performance from the movie which starts in a long shot and slowly zooms in to the song's conclusion. The theater was deathly quiet, taking in every moment of Glen's performance until he paused to ask, "Am I doin' OK?" The place exploded.

Marketa then joined him up front, to thunderous applause, for one more unplugged song before they retreated to their microphones. They were joined by three members of Glen's band, The Frames, on bass, electric guitar and violin, and the music they produced was amazing. The rest of the evening played out like a VH1 Storytellers episode with Glen telling long and often hilarious stories of many of the song's origins and fielding questions and comments from the audience. Some of his more interesting stories included leaving his worn Takamine guitar with a complete stranger for repair, standing in a grave he bought for his goth girlfriend's birthday to impress her, and lying drunk and freezing in a field in the middle of the night. It's amazing what life experiences will inspire good music.

Calexico opened the show and were amazing as well, performing as a duo with Joey Burns on vocals/guitar and John Covertino on drums. The concert was just what the doctor ordered. Our lives have been so hectic lately that it was good to have a little road trip to enjoy time with each other, great music, and some much needed laughs.

Please forgive my crappy photos. My PowerShot A530 didn't like being zoomed in in a darkened theater from 19 rows back.


Isorski said...

Great review! Just caught The Swell Season last night in Portland and they were fantastic. Different opener though. Posted a review at - check it out.

battered ham said...

Thanks! I've been listening to Glen/Marketa/The Frames all week since the concert. I downloaded a live set from their '06 Lollapalooza appearance...can't get "Fitzcarraldo" out of my head. I'll check out your review.