show recap: the swell season at radio city
  • WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20, 2010

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Photos by Joe Puglisi. For more shows, check out our photo section

I have a soft spot for the Czech, so it's great to see a renowned Czech musician sell out Radio City with her band. Last night was a dream come true for Irish musician Glen Hansard and Czech singer and pianist Marketa Irglova, who formed The Swell Season a few years back on top of Hansard's band The Frames. A little movie called Once starred the duo as (duh) musicians, and then Uncle Oscar took notice. They played the Academy Award-winning song "Falling", of course, but it was hardly the focus in an evening of intense constructions and emotive players.

Hansard really shined. His crowd banter was charming and funny, and his talent was nearly explosive. At one point, while playing solo with a guitar, he abandoned the microphone entirely to sing acoustic to the giant room... ignoring initial cries from the back, who were hard of hearing, he trudged on... his caterwaul couldn't be missed even from nosebleeds. He dedicated the song to a woman he had met in Chicago, a New Yorker who had lost her son in the Towers. Although she was invited, if she was there she hid... even after he reminisced about how her story had touched him.

The band did a Bruce cover, which he followed up with a story of his confusion at the crowd chanting "Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce" at his first Springsteen concert. He thought they were booing. "Whenever we're booed I just tell myself they are saying Bruce." Classic.

There was a ton of singing along, VERY instigated by a call and response instruction manual at the beginning of every song. The songs really lent themselves to crowd participation, the night being a very interactive, emotionally invested experience. Although I'm not at all familiar with the band's collected works, a lot of the songs were really captivating in their emotional weight. Hansard's stories added a new level of depth as well, he often mused on interpersonal relationships, "vampires," letting go of loved ones, etc.

The best part was the encore, with the band waiting in the wings, the crowd started up a rowdy round of "Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce" to coax them back. When Hansard finally got out, among the cheers, he struck a boss pose on both knees. Attending tons of club shows you tend to forget that there are some amazing showmen out there playing the big time... and for all the right reasons. -joe puglisi










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Pictures:The Swell Season at Radio City Music Hall
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