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Adelaide Festival 2013 review: Glen Hansard and The Frames

by:Patrick McDonald  From:adelaidenow  March 17, 2013 4:52pm

IT was the gig that kept on giving.

As the scheduled three-hour running time stretched to four, Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard took his band The Frames, special guest Lisa Hannigan, his three-piece string section and brass trio to the front of the stage to lead an audience singalong on Leonard Cohen’s Passing Through.

Each musician performed a solo spot before they played off into the wings … only to reappear in the aisles and surround the audience as they stood to leave their seats.

And it didn’t end there. When the audience finally made it outside the theatre, the band was waiting in Pitt St, still playing what had now evolved into a rollicking New Orleans-style jazz session, marching down the street like a Mardi Gras parade.

Best known for the film and stage musical Once  and his musical partnership with Marketa Irglova in The Swell Season, Hansard seamlessly flowed from the folky opener You Will Become,  through 1970s-style West Coast rock – evoking James Taylor on tracks like Maybe Not Tonight   with its lush orchestral sound and slide guitar solos – to the urgent drive of Talking with the Wolves.

His sweet, gentle voice rose to a ferocious roar on Show Yourself to Me,  which transformed into a bold and brassy soul revival with a dash of Aretha Franklin’s Respect.  You could feel the raw anger as The Frames’ playing reached incendiary levels on When Your Mind’s Made Up.

Hansard closed a solo bracket, played on a succession of old acoustic guitars where he’d actually worn holes in the wood, with a ferocious account of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks  – at the inspired prompting of an audience member.

Finally, he was joined by Hannigan – who had earlier delighted the audience with her own fusion of Celtic folk and swampy Southern blues – for duets on her song O Sleep  and The Swell Season’s Falling Slowly.

Our festivals don’t generally stage closing events but, if they did, this gig would have perfectly encapsulated everything that was fervent and vibrant about the past month in Adelaide.