Translated by Q&R Staff
Monday, August 25 2009
What is cool if you have friends in Dublin is… have friends in Dublin! Moreover if you love Ireland. Of course, everything is easier with the web, but if you have someone ‘on site’ it’s more easier. And very more funny!
Bob and Massimo know that we loved Once.
So when they asked:
“Do you want tickets for Swell Season gig?”
(you mean Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, aka the Guy and the Girl in Once, and Hansard’s band, The Frames), what do you think we answered!?
So, couple of months after Dublin Writers Festival and Seamus Heaney lecture, we are Ryanair guests again. Flight take off from Pisa a bit behind the time, but it lands in Dublin in time.
Joseph O’Connor wrote Dublin is just like a big village, if you stay for a week you start to cheer people walking: Sinéad’s brother is right: just out airport sliding doors, Aircoach guy is the same as two months ago…
Traffic is quiet, we arrive in Merrion Square when park is still open. We’ll sleep at O’Donoghue’s, over the pub frequented by Christy Moore with live music every evenings. MaG choose The Cellar for dinner, in front of Taoiseach Department.
There we know Andras, half Hungarian half Irish, who speaks a perfect Italian and shouts for Fiorentina. We exchange e-mail contacts, for further cultural relationships (read: “We find you Artemio Franchi Stadium tickets, you find us tickets for the Croke”.
No beer. But a Midleton Very Rare, that is.
It costs like five pints. I don’t ‘understand’ it completely (perhaps because the most expensive of the universe fish & chips in the universe which anticipated it?), but it’s only massif, like they say here about something made deadly well. 40 velvet percent, MaG suggests.
Songs in the pub, we have our keys to go upstairs. It sounds like home.
By the way: no rain.
Tuesday, August 26 2009
It rained by night, without disturb. Sky doesn’t know what to do: bring clouds from west or make the sun shine?
Meanwhile, we go to Bewley’s for breakfast… Well known faces, and we think about tens of characters who frequented this place.
Bach to Liffey, then. Also the Garda Station is in a book.
Two books, now, our friend tells, winking…
Who knows: maybe books are more than two!
We cross ‘O’Connell Bridge (how much characters did the same?), we towards the harbour, leaving behind the Custom House. We enter CHQ Building.
We meet there an Alien made by recycled metal and a Terminator 800 by RoboSteel; we don’t have €4.500 cash for Alien, so we go forward to our goal: House Of Tea.
108 teas. Beautiful. Also if you drink only lapsang… And what a lapsang! Not even the deadly good blackcurrants stew makes you forget the wooden tea’s aftertaste.
Tea gone, finally it rains. Rain, from the west, from the Ocean and Aran Islands, rain coming in a hurry, taking the Liffey d’enfilade, rain falling horizontally, like a huge tetris game played with a mad joystick swerving to the sea, or hating bitterly Sean O’Casey Bridge. We go out, umbrella is useless. Irish people hate irish weather, but I do want enjoy this quarter of a hour of rain: there’s a glimmer of blue sky, beyond the Spire, rain disappear, it hammers away, if you look at the big black clouds, the unlucky peolpe in northern suburbia…
We cross again O’Connell Bridge to meet another irish writer: Darran, taxi driver, poet and writer (children literature too): another guy who’s trying. We chat about weather, Facebook and the Edge: Darran went to last Croke Park gig, but he met the Edge one time: he was going to watch Finding Nemo with his (second) wife. Did you know One has been written by the Edge when his (first) wife dumped him? Did you know in Dublin there are two O’Connell Bridge?
After a Nutella crêpe and a tea, we cheer Darran: he’ll meet a journalist and he’ll be on the radio: Good luck, Darran!
It’s gig time. Five more minutes of rain while we cross the Green: ducks, swans and seagulls don’t care at all.
The Gig: Lisa Hannigan and Swell Season @NCH
Like for Heaney we are at National Concert Hall . Massimo sends a sms to Claire, the band manager. Claire come to meet us, the band has just ended soundcheck “and now I’ll feed them”, she tells, just like an apprehensive mum. Again we speak about weather: she envies our 37°C. She’s back to her ‘babies’, she assures us we’ll meet Glen after the gig: cool!
The audience is variegated: youngsters, coetaneous of us and quite a lot of olders; seats are perfect! I mutter a bit when I see the guitar on stage: it’s not battered, that’s not Glen’s guitar, Once‘s guitar!
But I forget: Swell Season will be anticipated by Lisa Hannigan.
Lisa starts with An Ocean And A Rock. then Passenger, and Venn Diagram.
We don’t know fourth song, it’s followed by Brolly Beats and Teeth, then Lisa ends with her hit, Lille.
Lisa has a shivering voice, I told to MaG: she has a more rockish taste, but in the middle of the gig she pokes me, because she is shivering! Lisa’s voice is not only shivering. Her voice is not only shivering: throaty, deep, powerful, like a lion kept at bay by the music. A man seaten close to us is touched. And the gig we were waiting for has not even started!
Lisa and his band leave the stage, soundcheck again. Here comes the battered guitar… Last tuning with Rob Bochnik the Swell Season (and Frames) guitarist. Me and MaG digress about the bassist loneliness, while he beats tempo with one chord less… Then, it starts.
Hansard is on stage. I realize, just when the band starts playing, that it’s becoming difficult, in the age of music i-pod-ization, still believe that behind earphones, in mp3 files, there are human beings. Because the energy of musicians on stage, the energy you see, you hear, you feel in your belly when they stamp on percussions and bassists do their job: that energy can’t pass by earphone, can’t stay in files.
First song, This Low, is from first album (2006), namesake Swell Season.
With second song we are in Once mood: When Your Minds Made Up.
As we saw watching Hansard videos on Youtube, one of Glen’s traits is the skill, and will, to interact with audience, also this audience which, at the beginning, is a bit cold (perhaps because of theatre, more suitable for classical music and Nobel prizes?). So Glen wants all of us standing to ‘shake up’ a bit, and he introduces all songs with a joke, chatting with us.
Third song, Low Rising, is from new album (out in autumn), Strict Joy. We already listened it in the Tiny Desk Concert on NPR and it is probably my favourite. Also next three pieces: The Moon, the energetic, vanmorrisonesque Feeling The Pull (Tiny Desk Concert) and High Horses, are from new CD. Back to Once with Leave, a bit of REM with Hairshirt, then again to the new work with the beautiful In These Arms. On the following song Glen joke: he introduces the song which designs the worts moment in your life, when you don’t want live anymore , when you have no hope, than he laughs telling that Back Broke (Tiny Desk Concert) is inspired by his first girlfriend who ditched him…
The song ends, Glen is alone on stage, he leave the guitar and ask fot the jacket: he picks up a book from the pocket . New CD title is related to James Stephens’s poem, Strict Care, Strict Joy: if needed, the strong relationship between irish music and irish literature is explicit, wanted, even more in Hansard work. After the lecture, Glen leave the limelight to Markéta for I Have Loved You Wrong.
Following two songs are made by the alchemy between Glen and Markéta, which gives more intensity to performance: songs from Once, touching and Oscar-winner Falling Slowly, Lies, raging and harrowing and If You Want Me (Markéta solo).
If the band thinks to have finished the job, audience, which ‘warmed up’, thinks different! Encores start with Markéta playing Fantasy Man (Tiny Desk Concert), than it’s time for Colm Mac Con Iomaire, violinist of the band (the only one with creased trousers: he’s a violinist, not a rocker!), author of the beautiful Chúinne an Ghiorria / The Hare’s Corner (2008), with Cúirt Bhaile Nua / The Court of New Town.
Glen time again, with the outstanding Go With Happiness, (NCH version linked), in which Joe Doyle’s bass and Graham Hopkins’ percussions are the perfect counterpoint for Hansard’s voice and Colm’s violin.
Then, favourite MaG’s song: Fitzcarraldo, from first album The Frames, a hymn for who perfectly knows what he’s looking for and has only to reach it.
End game: audience appreciates, and… Glen appreciates the audience, now! last songs to choose: someone asks for Fogtown, or You Ain’t Go Nowhere. Glen performs another ‘old’ piece, Red Chord, dedicated to his mother, and a snippet of The Boss’ Drive All Night. I’d like Revelate, one of my favourite songs, but I shout for Heyday, Mic Christopher‘s song.
And it is Heyday: you must end greeting old friends… Glen is touched, audience supports him, sings for him. Grand finale for a moving concert.
We wait for Claire in the hall, she brings us to meet Glen, while Colm speaks with friends and relatives and we meet Markéta.
I hug Glen, to thank him. We take a photo with him,
“testicles” I whisper, like in The Commitments, Glen smiles and I feel myself for a while part of Jimmy Rabbite Jr’s band. Then, part of a Roddy Doyle’s book. And I do not think there are not so many places which can make you feel like this.
I shake hands with Lisa Hannigan, I tell her she’s great.
We come back to O’Donoghue’s walking out south Green’s side.
By the way: no rain.
Swell Season Strict Joy Tour
Dublin, National Concert Hall, 26 agosto 2009
Glen Hansard (voice, guitar, piano) Markéta Irglová (voice, piano, guitar) Colm Mac Con Iomaire (violin) Joe Doyle (bass guitar) Rob Bochnik (guitar) Graham Hopkins (percussions)
Swell Season Strict Joy Album
Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Joe Doyle, Rob Bochnik, Graham Hopkins, Javier Mas (guitar), Thomas Bartlett (piano), Chad Taylor (percussions), Steven Bernstein and Clark Gayton (horn)
Swell Season's Strict Joy Track List
1. Low Rising
2. Feeling the Pull
3. In These Arms
4. The Rain
5. Fantasy Man
6. Paper Cup
7. High Horses
8. The Verb
9. I Have Loved You Wrong
10. Love That Conquers
11. Two Tongues
12. Back Broke
Swell Season's The Swell Season Track List
1. This Low
3. Falling Slowly
4. Drown Out
6. When Your Mind's Made Up
7. The Swell Season
8. Leave The Moon
9. Alone Apart