All of the major nominations and awards have yet to diminish the honest-to-goodness busking spirit of Glen Hansard. His musical roots, musicianship, and generosity of spirit were on full display on a Sunday night in Toronto, as Hansard shared his spotlight to great effect.
On tour to support his first solo album Rhythm and Repose, the Irish front man of the Frames appeared on stage in true street performer style, wearing a toque. Sitting at the piano, Hansard opened with a heartfelt version of new song “The Storm, It’s Coming”, followed by “Talking With the Wolves” and “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting”.
Backed by a full compliment of supporting musicians (including former members of American rock legend Levon Helm’s band), Hansard delighted fans by delving into material from the Swell Season that included “When Your Mind’s Made Up” and “Low Rising” before emptying the stage to stand alone with his signature full-of-holes Takamine guitar. Alone and acoustic, Hansard truly shines. During an epic performance of Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks”, fans were wide-eyed and fully expecting guitar strings to start snapping as Hansard’s strumming hand blurred while he belted out the lyrics. The complete band then returned to the stage to perform excellent versions of new songs “High Hope” and “This Gift” before jumping into “Fitzcarraldo”, an old Frames track, to end the main set.
The encore started off with a beautiful piece of music performed by Frames violinist Colm Mac Con lomaire, in which he sampled and looped the music he played to create layers of complimentary melodies. Then it was back to Hansard, who returned to the stage completely unplugged and sans microphone to play the Frames’ classic “Say It to Me Now” with the help of an audience member. While talking to the audience about friends he has made in Toronto, Hansard then made singer Peter Katz’ evening by inviting him from his seat to the stage to perform “Still Mind Still”, a beautiful lullaby by Katz, written for a friend to help calm her anxious mind.
To cap off a diverse night of music, Hansard and company ended the night with a soulful performance of Marvin Gaye’s “Don’t Do It”, followed by an around the venue ten-member marching band procession of Pete Seeger’s “Passing Through”.
The Storm, It’s Coming
Talking with the Wolves
Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting
When Your Mind’s Made Up
Bird of Sorrow
Astral Weeks (Van Morrison cover)
Violin solo by Colm Mac Con Iomaire
Say It to Me Now
Still Mind Still (performed by Peter Katz)
Don’t Do It (Marvin Gaye cover)
Passing Through (Pete Seeger cover)