Glen Hansard, Songs Ohia, Josh Ritter, Dan Sullivan
Review of their gig in Vicar Street, Dublin, 1 March 2001
During a week when, by his own admission, Glen Hansard and his band of merry Frames are playing almost every night, it is of little surprise that punters for this low-key gig are thin on the (very icy) ground.
The outing having been arranged as a showcase for some of the band's Chicago-based friends, we are first treated to three short sets. Dan Sullivan, quirky-folky a l?Jim O'Rourke - minus the pretensions. An unusual guitar-picking style marks him out - think Pat Methany playing Steve Reich's 'Electric Counterpoint'. Next up, Josh Ritter - backwater, can kicking, denim-clad, surprising us all with his poesy. The girls like this boy; you can tell by the suppressed whoops, as he beams between numbers. Highlight of his set is a lilting balladic allegory called 'The Bone of Song'. Songs Ohia now, with some mood altering, langourous, hollering-into-the-void songs of indeterminate length, including a paean to friend and host, the man with the 'mojo hand'.
The alleged owner of this legendary limb seems discernibly distracted when he appears for his own set. Having confessed to extreme tour fatigue, for the first hour he wears his sleep-deprived sensitivity on his sleeve - where he normally wears his heart - and the rawness is palpable. When he sidles into 'So What Happens...' there is a rare tremor in his voice, and the small and curiously dissociative crowd is eerily silent. 'The Early Bird' is rendered, for all its redemptiveness, with a soulful resignation - the sound of a tremulous last grasp at joy.
Glen the Glentertainer pops up sporadically, supping a pint and jovially aping some insouciant audience member but
then, joined by bandmates Dave Odlum and Joe Doyle, you get the impression that, were it not for his frontman status, he
would happily take a back seat. Joined again briefly by Mic Christopher for a rousing rendition of Michelle Shocked's 'Fogtown'
and then... away.
He saunters back for one final rejoinder in an acappella 'Raglan Road' but... no more, enough already! Happy to play but happier sure to be off to his own sweet dreams. Mr Hansard has left the stage and I'm pretty sure I saw the Sandman enter as I left the venue.