The stage is lit by a single spotlight, the silhouette of a man holding a guitar barely visible. The first notes of ‘Bird of Sorrow’ fill the crowded room, all eyes are on Glen Hansard. His euphoria transmits onto the mass of people in front him, who find themselves captured by the artist’s exhilarating spirits.
On October 7 Glen Hansard, probably best known for his performance in the Irish musical film Once (2007), allowed the audience to be part of a magical two hour long musical experience. Watching Hansard perform was a revelation; his immense physical activity on stage a testimony to his pure commitment to his passion, his music.
Whether the lyrics are accompanied by a small orchestra comprised of violins, cellos, trumpets and trombones, or played as a stripped down version with only a piano playing in the background, the songs are more than just five minute long renditions of some scribbled down words, they become bare confessions of deep seated emotions.
Hansard’s style cannot be pinned down to one genre, for his music combines country, folk, pop and blues elements.
It’s too difficult to choose only one favourite song from his set list, hence I settled for three songs I would recommend you to check out since they give you the best idea of who Glen Hansard is – music-wise.
Firstly, ‘Bird of Sorrow’, the opening song, the song that set off the cascade of musical highlights that followed. The tranquil start, accompanied only by a few piano accords, slowly develops into a hymn to the ones who persist, the ones that never give up even if life makes it hard to be yourself sometimes.
‘Falling Slowly’ : Oldie but goldie. This is the first song of Glen I have ever heard, way back in 2008, and ever since I have been a fan of his honest words and his alluring melodies. This song is a perfect example for how a seemingly small, slow song, being driven by bare emotions, can burst with power and can take the world by storm (the song won an Oscar).
‘Didn’t He Ramble’ is one of Glen’s most recent records and, just like all of his tunes, a song that won’t leave your mind that easily again. Glen writes songs that stick with you, that make you look inside yourself, that make you wonder about your own emotions, that instill you with a sense of shelter and self.
Writing a review for Glen Hansard’s concert is probably one of the hardest writing tasks I have set myself in a long time, since words cannot possibly do his music justice. Watching, listening, moving to the rhythms and lyrics and beats and true artists on stage, made this experience something words cannot fully capture, but I can say this: Glen’s music helped me lose sight of all the pressing thoughts that were on my mind that night, his voice cleared my sight for these few hours. And essentially that is what music truly means to me – it’s a safe haven, a place we can go to whether we’re feeling down or happy, there’s always a song that fits our mood, that understands us, that finds words for feelings we might otherwise be unable to voice.
Maria was listening to ‘When Your Mind’s Made Up’ by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglovà while writing this review.