Friday, May 21, 2010
The Swell Season @ The Orange Peel 05.20.10
Last night I had the pleasure of attending my first concert at the Orange Peel Social Aid & Pleasure Club in Asheville, NC. I can't attest to what the "Social Aid" is supposed to be other than attending a great show with friends, but The Swell Season more than did their part in providing the pleasure. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova played songs from their last album Strict Joy as well as familiar tunes from the Once soundtrack to a delighted audience. The two switched off on acoustic guitar and piano and were backed by a 4 piece band. Irglova's lead vocals opened the show but Hansard sang the bulk of the songs; I don't mean to diminish Irglova or the fragile beauty of her songs but it was Hansard the crowd came to see.
The singer couldn't have been a more engaging presence, warmly praising the city and recounting his day in between singing in his trademark head-about-to-explode style. Hansard onstage wants to expand the boundaries of what's possible with each song; to turn both old favorites and new tunes like "Low Rising" and "Feeling The Pull" into moments of joy, communion, and even healing. You'd think he'd get tired or phone one in after awhile, but the fact that he didn't is why this review sounds like a gush. His solo cover of Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" was a highlight of the evening and maybe the greatest live musical moment I've ever seen. Hansard honors the original and at once makes the song his own. The video above is not from last night but you'll get the idea.