By Daniel Ucko
It was a cold night in Los Angeles Saturday when Academy Award
winners Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova stopped by the Greek
Theatre for an alluring evening of sweet melodies and a soundscape
of dramatic harmonies to perform as The Swell Season.
The adorably talented and attractive couple from 2007’s best
song winners from the independent film “Once” shared the stage with
a backup band of equally skilled musicians to create a soothing
blend of calm and grandiose on an eerily dark night.
The full band complimented the singer songwriter pair o Hansard
and Irglova to create a perfectly mixed, full sound that lasted
well over two hours.
Lush vocal harmonies from the sweet yet gruff Irishman Hansard
and delightful Czech singer Irglova were layered on top of guitars,
piano, bass, drums and violin to make a soothing blend of calm and
Hansard charmed the nearly sold-out crowd of shivering families,
hipsters, and collegiates with light-hearted tales describing the
songs before performing them – something so rare today it could be
called old fashioned.
The songs – many from the movie plus a slew of fresh pieces –
were of love, loss, hope, happiness, searching and wandering.
Most started quiet and grew to powerful love ballads, tearing at
the heartstrings of each audience member with every note.
Many of the recognizable numbers, like the award-winning
“Falling Slowly,” were out of the way before everyone found their
“It’s just like the movie!” one person said as the duo began the
hit song. “They’re playing this one already?” another inquired.
While most songs were lead by Hansard, the humble and lovable
Irglova swapped places with Hansard from her usual spot on piano to
pick up an acoustic guitar for “If You Want Me.”
A simple digital beat brought fans of the film back to a scene
where Irglova picks up batteries at a convenience store for her
portable CD player so that she can put her own lyrics to one of
There were no problems getting lost in the rich sounds as they
reverberated from the hilly theatre’s landscape of well-lit Redwood
By the time the end of the set neared around 10:30 p.m., special
guests joined the band to enhance the evening even more, making it
feel like it would never end.
John Carney, the director of “Once,” joined Hansard and Irglova
on bass for one song, while Sam Beam of opener Iron & Wine
provided guest vocals for another.
And Richard Sherman, a newfound friend of the band’s and fellow
Academy Award winner, took to the piano stool for a rendition of
“Supercalifragilistic expealidocious” from “Mary Poppins.”
Though the twangy, blues and folk acoustics of Iron & Wine
were a sound of its own, the more mellow opening act was long
forgotten by the time the The Swell Season finished their encore
around 11 p.m.
Somewhere between waking and sleeping is right where the music
of The Swell Season will fit into your life.
It’s an album you put on right before you go to bed and wake up
to hours later, realizing the CD has been repeating for hours.
It is precious music that carries the journey of two regular
people that made it to the top without ever intending to.
The evening ended “People Get Ready,” a wordly-themed song
Hansard claimed had nothing to do with politics.
The crowd felt differently, as they screamed replies like “It
has everything do with the election!” before they joined together
in singing, “We have all the time in the world/to get it right/to
get it right. We have all the love in the world/to set a light/to
set a light.”
Courtesy of www.flickr.com
Oscar-winning artists pack the Greek Theatre
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