It was a flawless evening. Glen Hansard is an actor and musician best known for his performance in the Oscar Winning film, Once. Last Tuesday, Sept. 25 2012, he performed at the Pageant. Although Hansard’s most popular song is his soft and powerful duet with Marketa Irglova titled “Falling Slowly,” his range of music varies drastically, as exhibited at his concert last Tuesday.
Hansard hails from Ireland, where he has been writing music since he was 13 years old. He has been famous in Ireland for many years as the lead singer of the rock band, The Frames; however, his acoustic music is what made him famous in the United States. Therefore, the crowd that was present at the show consisted of a wide array of fans, from teenagers to senior citizens.
The venue was set up with seats filling every inch of space, an unusual setup for a concert at the Pageant. After the first song or so, Hansard invited anyone to stand in the front (directly in front of people sitting in their front-row reserved seats). For the younger fans who were in the front, (I, of course, being one of them), the concert was a heck of an experience. I did, however, feel bad for the older-aged fans that probably could not see the stage very well over the many fans standing in front of them.
Hansard was the greatest live act I have ever seen. He opened with four new songs off of his solo album that was released in June 2012 titled “Rhythm and Repose.” The recordings of these songs, although great, do not quite capture Glen in concert. The complaint about his solo album from some reviewers and fans is that the beautiful, acoustic, passionate yelling that drew in his American fan base was very minimalistic. However, in concert, he extended the songs adding his yelling whenever he sought fit. For those who were not previous fans of Glen Hansard, the yelling might have been too much for them without a forewarning, but for those who have seen the movie Once and loved the music from it, the concert would be very enjoyable.
He had a ten-person band behind him that consisted of his former band, the Frames, as well as a horn section. After these songs, the concert bounced around from full band soft rock to just Glen on stage playing acoustic songs (even taking some requests). He played his original music as recorded with the Frames, Marketa Irglova (together known as The Swell Season), as well as music from his solo album. Not only did he play favorites from all of these bands (and from the movie Once), he played covers by Van Morrison, Marvin Gaye and Bob Dylan. The Marvin Gaye piece captured the essence of SKA. It was very unlike Hansard, but it was impossible to not enjoy it. He and the band were having so much fun on stage during this song (and throughout the whole concert) that even if the you did not like the music, the fun they were having would still leave a smile on your face.
Hansard put on the perfect musical performance immersed in passion and emotion. Not only did he play music incredibly, but he even kept the audience entertained with his sense of humor and easy-going attitude. He invited a random person onto stage because she was trying to take a photo with her Polaroid camera, so he gathered the entire band with their arms around each other for a picture. Hansard was so laid back that the security of The Pageant did not know what to do half the time. Even though they might have not appreciated it, the fans adored his friendliness. Hansard built such a relationship with the audience that he even played three extra songs that were not on the set list because they were requested. It was evident that he really enjoyed the audience. Not only did Hansard win St. Louis over with his music and character, but it would appear that St. Louis won him over, as well. Not many artists allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to enjoy an audience as much as an audience enjoys them, but one could see it on Hansard’s face that he did.