Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Swell Season

Anyone who's seen the film 'Once' will know the two protagonists, who are also the lead players in this Irish music co-operative who played the Albert Hall to a nearly full house last night - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. (Anyone who hasn't seen the film should).

A great concert. After rather overlong support acts and two intervals, Hansard takes the stage, steps in front of (not behind!) the microphone and performs one of the key songs from 'Once' - just him and his guitar with no amplification, fills the Albert Hall with sound ... Brave man! And of course he has us in his palm after that. Marketa came on and they did a duet (with mics), then the rest of the band, then a two-hour show that seemed to last about thirty minutes.

For me, two highspots: a solo version by Glen of 'Astral Weeks' (the song, not the whole album!), at the end of which he made his guitar and voice sound like an orchestral thunderstorm - the floor in the stalls was actually trembling, and I reckon Albert and his Hall rose into the night air above Hyde Park. Secondly, a spoken intro where he explained that, if you see an insurmountable wall in front of you, one plan is to turn round and walk in the opposite direction - eventually (if you have the time and energy), you'll have walked all round the world and end up on the other side of that wall.

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