- 16 Dec 14
The now-traditional festive gig from the Frames frontman is long on time and even longer on joy
Pictures of the gig taken by Kathrin Baumbach can be found here.
At one point, looking out on the Vicar Street faithful, Glen Hansard remarks, “It feels like church.” Thank goodness he said it.
The annual pilgrimage to the Church of Glen is just as religious as Christmas at this stage, as ingrained in the holiday season as mulled wine and overpriced knitwear. People flock from far and wide to be part of the occasion, screaming glorious refrains as though they started the day mute.
In the middle of it all, of course, is the evangelical figure of Hansard. Armed – fittingly enough – with a new guitar crafted from an old church pew, he might begin the night with some pared-down numbers but soon he’s flanked by an army of disciples – string section, brass section, rhythm section, the whole kit and caboodle.
Some songs are merely lifted by the instrumental augmentation; ‘Song of Good Hope’ glistens with a string accompaniment, while ‘When Your Mind’s Made Up’ benefits from the power of brass. Others – ‘Bird of Sorrow’ and ‘Her Mercy’, to name but two – sound like they should never be without a full band’s support again.
Hansard is happy to have the stage to himself for a while, too. He takes the chance during a brief solo stint to unleash some new material – ‘Paying My Way’ and ‘Stay the Road’ the standouts. Later on another newbie, ‘Wedding Ring’, sees trombonist Curtis Fowlkes take on vocal duties; a sign of things to come.
After another slew of numbers with the band – of which ‘Revelate’ and ‘Falling Slowly’ stick out as suitably rousing – the sardine-esque backstage empties, as a parade of Irish talent take their turns in the spotlight; August Wells, Declan O’Rourke, Lisa O’Neill, Mundy, Damien Demspsey… it would be as easy to pick out the handful of familiar names who are absent. By the time the full complement is out there for a closing rendition of ‘The Auld Triangle’, there’s about as many on stage as in the audience.
To watch the crowd depart would make you doubt the enlightenment inside; after four hours on their feet, people who could walk are now lame. The smiles, though, tell the story of the glorious communion of the night. It’s another special evening in Dublin music; another special chapter in The Book of Glen.
This show was held in aid of the Peter McVerry Trust. To find out more about the terrific work they do helping Ireland's homeless, visit [link]pmvtrust.ie[/link]