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Last nights sold out performance at Radio City Music Hall was a truly magnificent musical event. 'The Swell Season,' an ever growing amalgamation, which last night consisted of front man, the Irish and exuberant, Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová, Czech born diminutive songstress, and the entirety of 'The Frames,' Hansard's first band, as well as a three man brass section.

Glen Hansard is a force, almost alien in his capacity for joy and a seemingly endless outpouring of energy. Hansard led the group for an almost three hour concert, that felt less like a show and more like a festival, lasting well into the night. I was delighted to have the pleasure of seeing Hansard's first love, his band 'The Frames,'  join in his success.'The Frames,' a hard working and awesome Dublin based band for almost twenty years before the film 'Once' catapulted its front man, Hansard, into Oscar stardom and an ongoing romance with the whole world.


Glen Hansard is the best example of passion that I have ever seen. I don't think I have ever seen a musician work harder and transform the effort into pure joy. Hansard's love of music, his band mates, and of life in general is completely contagious. He is a man living each day completely right and spreading his talent as effortlessly as he hits those high notes. He is ,at heart, still a total busker. Before he played his sold out show at Radio City Music Hall, he made sure to spend some time warming up on the surrounding streets.

Markéta Irglová is a silent, perfect presence. It is not hard to see her as the other half of Hansard. She might be the only person able to keep up with his almost manic energy, through her utter effortlessness. It seems like she would let him talk for hours and then be able to level him one sentence. She is a strong talent and a beautiful singer. Hansard and Irglová, a past romantic pair much to the delight of 'Once' Lovers everywhere, have parted ways, and yet seemed to be the most respectful and loving friends. It is clear that they still both admire and adore each, as musicians and as people.

'The Swell Season' played songs from their new album 'Strict Joy,' as well as all the old 'Once' favorites. Hansard also covered my favorite Van Morrison song, 'Astral Weeks', with a fervor that I did not think possible, much to my great delight. Colm Mac Con Iomaire, a member of The Frames and an absolutely stunning violinist, played a number on his own that was utterly breathtaking. The tremendous talent of all the musicians on that stage last night was utterly staggering. They each held their own, bringing something strong and unique to the sound.


Glen Hansard begged the crowd to speak what was in their hearts. He told heartwarming and rich stories about his own life and what music means to him, by the passion of his words, its clear it means a lot. Hansard also really puts his audience to work, begging them to sing along, teaching lyrics, and building harmonies. He seems to seek a real connection with his fans, respecting them as music lovers like himself. Hansard demands the real from everything he does. He and his crew refused to utilize the two large television screens on either side of the stage. He said he found them distracting and promised he and the band would try to "be animated." This is a man who really knows what music means, or at least what it is supposed to mean. In the face of today's image mongering, it is so refreshing to see musicians who are just themselves, vulnerable and utterly without guile.


GREAT pictures from last night can be found at...


http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2010/01/the_swell_seaso_11.html

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