- 10 Apr 19
The singer-songwriter reminded us exactly why he’s one of Dublin’s favourite sons with a rousing show at Vicar Street last night.
Glen Hansard has earned a reputation for his epic performances over the years, and Tuesday evening’s Vicar Street performance was no different. Once again, the singer-songwriter dazzled his Dublin audience with an unpredictable set that drew from both beloved fan favourites and the fresh, eclectic sound of his new album, This Wild Willing.
Support on the night came in the form of exceptional French duo Joe Quartz. Armed with stunning vocals, a keyboard, “a medieval sitar”, pineapple shakers, a cello and drums (the last two often being played simultaneously by one half of the duo), the group fearlessly pushed at the boundaries of genre and melody with irresistible charm.
The duo were a fitting opener for Glen, whose latest album signals a serious sea change in his work. Taking to the stage with a rousing rendition of one of his new tracks, ‘Don’t Settle’, it was clear that although the sound was new, his chops were as sharp as ever.
The large backing band were often the driving force the show, with shining standouts from the saxophone player and string section. However, in the moments where Glen opted for a stripped-back approach, including on ‘Time Will Be The Healer’, which featured accompaniment from Javier Mas of Leonard Cohen’s band, the results were just as magic.
Other highlights from This Wild Willing included 'I'll Be You, Be Me' and 'The Closing Door'. The second half of the latter featured an incredible arrangement by the Iranian trio who joined Glen at his last Vicar Street show, back in December. Although unable to join this time round, their unique sound was beautifully adapted on the strings.
Glen didn't hold back on the fan favourites, either. His performance of 'When Your Mind's Made Up' from Once was one of the most poignant moments of the night, while his run-through of some of The Frames' classics, like 'Star Star' and 'Revelate', were met with raucous reactions from the crowd.
Never one to shy away from the issues he's passionate about, Glen took a moment to address to the state of the natural world around the gig's halfway mark. He invited a spokesperson from Ark, an initiative looking to 're-wild' parts of the countryside to deliver a mini-lecture to the audience, which was met with serious enthusiasm.
Other standouts from the night included a lovely moment in which Glen invited two young boys (the stars of his latest music video for 'Brother's Keeper') onstage to lead the crowd in a rendition of Johnny Cash's 'Ring Of Fire'. Towards the end of the set, 'Falling Slowly' also managed to hit as many magic notes as ever.
Glen may be approaching half-a-century, but as last night attests, his energy and vocals have never been more impressive. The show conclusively demonstrated why he's the act that almost every Irish singer-songwriter aspires after. Despite being mimicked often, however, Glen's legendary pairing of soulful charisma and raw talent has yet to be matched.