Glen Hansard with the Frames
Opera House, March 25
It’s dangerous to quote, or misquote, the Scottish play in a building like the Opera House but it’s fair to say that nothing in this show by Irishman Glen Hansard and his ever expanding band became them like the manner of their leaving.
We’d already had several of his solo album songs which lean towards ’70s easy grooving California, like the James Taylor-esque Maybe Not Tonight and the soulful Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting. We’d had a number of Frames songs with their characteristic – and it has to be said somewhat repetitive – build-build-exult-relax structure, like Minds Made Up. And along with a Van Morrison cover (a bustling Astral Weeks), there’d been intense moments like the solo, acoustic version of Leave, from his film/musical Once. All of which made a pretty fine show already, leavened by moments of easy humour.
Yet, having warned us several times as the clock ticked past 11pm that “we’re not done yet”, Hansard never looked in a hurry to leave. He followed a solo, unplugged Say It To Me by bringing back his compatriot, support act Lisa Hannigan (who’d already roused the workers with him on their cover of Woody Guthrie’s Vigilante Man), for a crackly Oh Sleep and then a pretty version of the sadly beautiful centrepiece of Once, the soon-to-be-a-standard Falling Slowly.
Finally, nearly three hours after taking to the stage (it’s clear he’s been taking some cues from his friend Bruce “I don’t get out of bed for less than a 150 minute show” Springsteen), he moved to the front of the stage with Hannigan, the five-piece Frames, the three brass players and the three string players.
Unplugged once again they slowly worked their way into Leonard Cohen’s arrangement of the old quasi-spiritual Passing Through, enlisting us all soon enough, turning the concert hall into a revival hall so that as they trooped off the stage in line it seemed the stomping and singing from the audience would rustle up some saints to march behind them.
But wait, there was more. And more. Out in the foyer we found them still playing, still testifying, quickly surrounded by the audience even as they marched down the steps to the box office area and then out to the footpath.
This was inclusive, personal and yet made for the throngs performance and that it had been happening on this tour’s earlier stops didn’t make it feel any less natural and involving. The night had been long but the end sent us home buzzing, beaming and humming that tune. All of us. Yes, I’m sure even a certain grouchy, guilty Thane.