The Druid, Boston, 18 June 2001
Glen Hansard is an entertainer, pure and simple. It is the blood that pulses through his veins. When he's not up to his eyeballs with touring and recording commitments with The Frames, he relaxes. Only his idea of relaxation is not putting his feet up and enjoying a nice glass of wine, it's travelling the world as a solo artist, meeting up with old friends and playing along the way.
On this occasion it was The Druid in Boston, a small Irish bar that hosts a weekly residency for local and international singer/songwriters run by another singer/songwriter Martin Finke and his girlfriend Lara Norris. It is by no means a conventional music venue but it does have that certain charm that elevated Sin E in New York to cult status.
Tonight was more of a festival though, with a jam-packed line-up that included sets from Mark Dignam, Josh Ritter, Mic Christopher and of course Hansard himself. All of whom will be familiar to followers of The Frames having toured with them at one time or another.
Dignam got things going in his inimitable style, delivering gutsy vocals that seemed unattainable from his small frame. Ritter, from Idaho, was the only American on show and although he believes the only way to sing country is to "pretend you're singing to a horse" he is a rare talent and well worth checking out. It was more a case of 'sure why not' when Christopher took to the stage. Originally he was not part of the bill but he battled through his 'nine hangovers' to show his worth.
While the others had struggled constantly to mute the talkative crowd, within seconds Hansard had the first five rows sitting on the floor like a playschool group, giving the fans at the back a better view. And by the first strum of his battered but trusty guitar he had the attention of every sinner in the place.
It is only in listening to his solo take on Frames songs that you fully appreciate the talent of the man. Each song is delivered with a personality that makes each fan feel like a friend. It wasn't all plain sailing though, he did drop a cup of tea over some poor girl sitting at his feet but apart from the third degree burns she was pretty chuffed with herself. It was the 'For The Birds' material that shone brightest as he mixed electrifying guitar work one second with wispy sentiment the next and when his audience weren't singing along they were in fits of laughter as a result of his many, many humorous tales. A delicate version of 'Raglan Road' brought the curtains down on nearly two hours of uninterrupted bliss and the fact that there were as many Americans as Irish in the assembly shows that the word according to The Frames is spreading fast. All this can only bode well for their US tour in October.
Check out the review of the new Frames album 'For the Birds'