The second concert in the 3 Rivers Arts Festival I couldn't bear to miss was for Glen Hansard. I discovered the Irish singer/songwriter about five years ago through the movie "Once". It's a beautiful indie film staring Glen & Markéta Irglová, and it is now a Broadway musical. Together, Glen and Markéta are the band "The Swell Season"; but they're currently working on solo projects.
Opening for Glen Hansard in Pittsburgh was Lisa Hannigan. I was honestly more excited to see her, than I was to see Glen. Lisa is also an Irish singer/songwriter. She doesn't have a movie, but I love singing along with her debut recording: "Sea Sew".
Once again, I headed to the park after work. This time, I was a little better prepared for sitting on the grass. I stopped by the drugstore on my way. They had one lonely picnic blanket for sale. It needed me, and I needed it!
|Beth's things on my bright green blanket.|
I sat in front of the sound-tent this time, but still a little way back from the stage. These crowds were nothing like those at the opening night concert. I suppose it had a lot to do with it being a weeknight, and one where the forecast called for thunderstorms. I was wearing galoshes and carrying a windproof umbrella. A little rain won’t chase me away from great music!
With impending storms in mind, they decided to start the music early. Shane and Beth were coming to meet me, but they both work much farther away. They hadn't even arrived yet when Lisa Hannigan took the stage.
Shane looking down from his lawn chair with a sense of superiority, and Beth being cute.
There was a rush of excitement from the crowd when Glen Hansard took the stage. He paused for a few minutes to sound-check and wait for his band. He warned us that the concert would end abruptly when the rain arrived. He also said the cool, grey weather made him feel at home.
The movie and albums didn't prepare me for how intense Glen Hansard's performances could be. When he got a song up to a good driving rhythm, he'd become lost in it. He'd close his eyes, maybe back away from the mic, and bop up and down with the beat. A few times, his face turned a purple-ish red; and even from a distance, I could see a vein popping out on his forehead. The concert was fun, but this guy is serious. Even his acousitc guitar is hard-core (sadly, not pictured). He's worn a hole right through the wood where he strums.
Glen Hansard worked through his set efficiently. We were all expecting downpour at any moment. But the weather remained friendly. So they kept playing. I think there were about thirty minutes of energetic "encores". Each song ended with Glen saying something like, "We've got to go. Seriously. This is the last one."
Lisa Hannigan came back to join him and the band for a few songs, including the old "Swell Season" hit, "Falling Slowly". His voice was nearly gone by then, so he asked the audience to sing the high notes on the chorus for him. We obliged with gusto. Glen invited an old friend on stage too. He's an Irish musician who now lives in Pittsburgh. I can't remember his name, and I couldn't find him with a Google search. Here he is listening to Lisa from the audience. If you know who he is, say so in the comments please! Mystery man sang us a song and then did another with his small children singing back-up. We couldn't hear them well, but they were adorable!
Glen Hansard ended the night (at last) with a song I'd never heard before: "The Auld Triangle". He said it was an important song to the Irish, so I looked it up. I could write a whole post about this song! It was written for a 1954 dark comedic play about an Irishman on death row. The play was popular, and a short while later the death penalty was abolished in Ireland. (I do not know how directly the play effected the legislation, if at all.) This particular prison is notorious to this day, and houses many debtors and political prisoners. That sounds like a weird choice for a finale, sure. But it is really catchy! If you'd like to hear the song yourself, I found a video of Glen singing it with Bono (who doesn't do very well with it - my apologies). Beth, Shane and I were singing the refrain all the way home!