Glen Hansard - Live At The Walt Disney Concert Hall: Review
Tue, 17 Nov 2015 16:06:20
(November 9, 2015, Los Angeles CA) Sometimes, in the luckiest of moments as a listener, you will get to hear the best of the best and when that instance happens, wherever you are, you'll feel at home; Irish musician Glen Hansard did just that for 2,000 listeners at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Playing music from his solo albums and previous bands (The Swell Season and The Frames) his songs ranged from strong and fierce ballads that rattled the floorboards beneath listeners' feet to tender tunes that stung with meaning. Strumming his battered guitar with limitless intensity, Hansard was the blue center of the fire as his talented robust backing band eagerly fed off his passion and warmed the hall with blazing flames of music.
Far from the streets of Dublin, where Hansard got his start in music busking on city corners after dropping out of school at age 13, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a intimidating venue. Home to the LA Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale, the hall is world-renowned for its singular architecture and lush detailed acoustics. Hansard walked onto the stage undaunted accompanied by a violinist, cello, and double bass. Standing back from the microphone with only the room's construction giving him volume, he opened the set with the declarative song, "Grace Beneath the Pines" off his 2015 album, Didn't He Ramble. His vocals bounced off walls as if the hall were made for him, easily reaching ears from the bottom to the top of the bowl shaped space.
As the full band, which included both string and horn sections, entered the stage, Hansard found his guitar and launched into "Winning Streak." A crowd favorite, "When Your Mind's Made Up" from The Swell Season opened and ended to cheers as the band showed off its tightness and vibrancy while playing the song that builds with amazing power. Hansard, alone with his guitar, again stepped away from the mic and turned towards the audience that had thus far been looking at his back throughout the show. Showered by cheers of appreciation, he said, "It's going to be quite and soft, but I mean it," before launching into "Stay the Road" which he dedicated to anyone on a stage in that moment.
During the encore Hansard appeared standing on the high giant organ that is the centerpiece of the hall. Surrounded by the curving wood pipes of the one of a kind instrument he first played the short exploding "Say It To Me Now" and later an Interference cover, "Gold." Running down the long length of stairs to meet back with the band on stage, Hansard was joined by the honey vocals of Aiofe O'Donovan, (who'd opened the night) to sing the sweetly harmonious, "Falling Slowly." In the final songs of the set, all the musicians left their safeguard instruments and joined Hansard arm in arm to sing mic-free tunes of humble delight, finally closing with Leonard Cohen's "Passing Through."
Conversational throughout the show, Hansard told heartfelt stories of songs' meanings and funny memories of good times with best friends. Perhaps the greatest moments of the night were when Hansard asked the crowd to join in on a part of a song, to "not be intimidated by the room" as he said, and sing a little melody to help the band. It was in those moments where the audience was most transported. The high vaulted ceiling of the famed hall could have been any place in the world where a man with a guitar is coaxing you to stay for just one more story, one more song, and sing along while you're at it. Hansard's dynamic performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall radiated with warmth and authenticity.
Purchase Glen Hansard music on iTunes.