Irish singer-songwriter, and actor Glen Hansard made his first trip to Oklahoma City this past Monday night, and I have a feeling it won’t be his last. Touring in support of his This Wild Willing album, Hansard effectively floored me with his songwriting and arrangements. In addition to a staggering collection of songs, Hansard brought with him and incredible backing band and undoubtedly a bit of magic as well. I say magic, as there certainly was a presence of something in the Tower Theatre this night that I’ve never really experienced before. So yeah, I’m going with magic. It certainly seems a fitting description.
The funny thing is, before Monday night, I really wasn’t all that familiar with Hansard. Sure, I’d seen him in the movie, The Commitments, but I really didn’t know his current situation or songs. I wasn’t familiar with his older bands The Frames or Swell Season either. An old friend from Houston, Beth, who now lives in Ireland, saw that Hansard had an OKC date scheduled and insisted that I attend. That’s a recommendation I’m extremely grateful for, as this was perhaps my favorite show of the year.
Hansard began the evening solo, taking the stage to an audience as loud and appreciative as I’ve ever seen at the Tower. With a slight acknowledgment Hansard and his worn acoustic delivered “Say It To Me Now”, before being joined by his incredible band, Javier Mas (guitar), Joseph Doyle (bass), Rob Bochnik (guitar), Earl Harvin (drums), Romy (piano) and Michael Buckley (sax, flute, mellotron).
Be sure, they were all a huge part of the aforementioned magic. Over the course of the next two hours, Hansard and band delivered every emotion one can experience through songs. Highlights included, “McCormack’s Wall,” “Mercy,” “Falling Slowly,” “This Gift” and a wonderful rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land.” Whether he was playing acoustic or electric guitar; seated at the piano or perched upon the edge of the stage singing “Grace Beneath The Pines” acappela I found myself absolutely captivated, and slightly disappointed in myself. How could I have not been aware of this incredible songwriter? I’ve a lot of ground to make up.
Hansard’s tour continues through the end of the month here in the States before returning across the pond for shows across Europe. I certainly cannot recommend catching this show if you have the opportunity. Be sure to check out This Wild Willing on Anti-Records, and keep up with Glen Hansard via his incredibly extensive web page here: http://glenhansard.com/