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Live Review: Glen Hansard with Colm Mac Con Iomaire at Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ – 27th September 2016

By on Wednesday, 12th October 2016 at 2:00 pm

In sharp contrast to the sparsely attended gig I saw in Phoenix on the last Monday night in September, that week’s Tuesday night show at Tucson’s Rialto Theatre was packed to the gills, with fans lining up outside over an hour ahead of doors to see Irish singer/songwriter Glen Hansard. Though Hansard’s fame on American shores came largely from the movie-turned-Broadway-musical ‘Once’, his more recent repertoire, including 2015 album ‘Didn’t He Ramble’, has also been well-received, as evidenced by the large turnout in Tucson on the night.

I was motivated to arrive early to the show myself to see the support act, violinist and composer Colm Mac Con Iomaire. We at TGTF were introduced to Mac Con Iomaire at SXSW 2015, where he regaled us with a memorable riverboat performance hosted by Generator NI. However, those familiar with Glen Hansard’s storied career will know that Mac Con Iomaire is also Hansard’s bandmate in The Frames, and his appearance here was integrated into Hansard’s show even beyond his supporting slot.


Mac Con Iomaire played a elegant and pleasantly prolonged opening set of instrumental music that warmed the crowd up nicely, beginning with the lovely ‘Emer’s Dream’ and finishing with ‘Thou Shalt not Carry Timber’, both from his 2008 solo album ‘The Hare’s Corner’. In the middle of his set, he played through several newer pieces from 2015 LP ‘And Now the Weather’, including a bittersweet dedication to his late sister (whom he referred to very quaintly as having been “promoted” to heaven), titled ‘In the Arms of the Angels’. Mac Con Iomaire demonstrated his compositional skill as well as his technical versatility, switching from violin to acoustic guitar for the recently commissioned ‘Solasta’, which he also performed recently for RTÉ Radio 1.


Hansard himself took the stage with a large entourage of accompanying musicians, including a string quartet, and opened not with one of his own songs, but with a rearranged version of ‘Sunken Waltz’, originally by Tucson natives Calexico. Having thus successfully charmed his way into the hearts of his Old Pueblo fans, Hansard then dived headlong into his own repertoire, which was no less eagerly anticipated. ‘Paying My Way’ and ‘Renata’ were early highlights of the set, both prefaced by engaging, though possibly somewhat embellished, banter from an Irishman with a willing and captive audience.

Glen Hansard internal orch

Commentary on the currently volatile American political climate was not to be avoided, I suppose, and in very Irish fashion, Hansard dedicated ‘Winning Streak’ to defeated American presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Later in the set, he performed an inspired version of Woody Guthrie’s classic ‘Vigilante Man’, with verses altered to name presidential candidate Donald Trump in a rather less than flattering metaphor. However, unlike fellow songwriter Foy Vance in Phoenix earlier in the month, Hansard’s political remarks were met with vocal agreement from the more liberal Tucson crowd.

Glen internal solo

Following a lively and naturally verbose exposition, ‘McCormack’s Wall’ was one of the night’s uptempo focal points. But having been billed as ‘An Intimate Evening with Glen Hansard’, the show included some nice softer moments as well, with ‘Wedding Ring’ making an appearance early in the set and both ‘Falling Slowly’ and a solo acoustic version of ‘Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting’ coming later on.

Near the end of the show, a dedicated and clearly emotional fan in the front row took advantage of a quiet spell to offer a book of her poetry to Hansard. In a genuine moment of personal interaction, Hansard not only took the poems but invited the young lady onstage to read one of them, while he accompanied on guitar. Flustered but determined to be courageous, she accepted, and was rewarded with an experience that she will no doubt tell her own stories about for years to come.

Hansard closed the set proper with rousing versions of ‘High Hope’ and my recent favourite ‘Her Mercy’. The more than 2-hour show truly seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, and of course the enthusiastic Tucson crowd pleaded for more. With his characteristic warmth and grace, Hansard acknowledged our applause by returning to the stage for a fond and singularly appropriate farewell in the form of ‘Song of Good Hope’.

Glen Hansard set list

A full listing of Glen Hansard’s upcoming worldwide tour dates can be found on his official Facebook. TGTF’s complete archive on Glen Hansard is right through here, and our previous coverage of Colm Mac Con Iomaire is this way.


Live Gig Video: Glen Hansard continues his ‘Winning Streak’ on The Late Late Show with James Corden

By on Friday, 12th February 2016 at 4:00 pm

Irish singer/songwriter Glen Hansard was in Los Angeles last week for an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden.  Corden, himself an expat from the UK, has a history of featuring musical guests from across the Atlantic on his show, and his reach has now apparently extended to Ireland as well.

In the video featured below, Hansard gives a polished performance of his charming track ‘Winning Streak’.  The song appears on Hansard’s latest LP ‘Didn’t He Ramble’, released last autumn on Anti- Records.  TGTF’s collection of previous coverage on Glen Hansard, including a review of that album, can be found by clicking here.



Video of the Moment #1970: Glen Hansard

By on Monday, 7th December 2015 at 6:00 pm

Despite his long musical career including his involvement in The Frames and The Swell Season, Irish singer/songwriter stalwart Glen Hansard released his latest solo album ‘Didn’t He Ramble’, only his second, back in September. To learn more about the LP, you can read Carrie’s thoughts on the new collection of songs here.

In his latest video from the album for ‘Her Mercy’, described by Carrie as Hansard channelling Van Morrison, we follow a nattily-dressed fellow and a grieving woman all in black headed…well, I won’t spoil for you. We all need a little simple joy right now, and this song provides the perfect, uplifting soundtrack to the action contained within. Watch it below.

‘Didn’t He Ramble’ is available now from Anti- Records. Past coverage of Glen Hansard on TGTF can be found this way.



Album Review: Glen Hansard – Didn’t He Ramble

By on Thursday, 17th September 2015 at 12:00 pm

Didn't He Ramble coverThinking back on Glen Hansard‘s long and storied career in music, it’s hard to remember that he didn’t release his first solo album until fairly late in the game. After his lengthy stints as principal songwriter and frontman for the Frames and then as half of celebrated duo the Swell Season, it’s perhaps understandable that Hansard’s debut solo album, 2012’s ‘Rhythm & Repose’, had a sense of urgency about it, restrained but always palpable in both the instrumental arrangements and the controlled stridency of his singing. With his new LP release ‘Didn’t He Ramble’, Hansard seems to have shaken off some of that anxious intensity, settling instead into a more comfortable and contemplative state of mind.

True to its title, ‘Didn’t He Ramble’ is a bit of a meandering affair, winding through its emotional journey without trying to focus on an eventual destination. The album itself was recorded in a variety of different settings, including New York, Chicago, Dublin and France, and the overall process was quite a prolonged one. Hansard explains:

I feel I’ve really dug deep for these songs, and I’ve been chasing specific ideas asking myself ‘what is it I’m trying to say with this line or idea?’ One would hope that through all of this that you find your voice. And, amazingly, you might find it in the smallest gesture of a song.

It is the variety of those small gestures that make ‘Didn’t He Ramble’ a special and unique listen. The album features added flourishes by Irish folk artist John Sheahan (the Dubliners) and American singer/songwriters Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) and Sam Amidon. Production duties on the record were split between two of Hansard’s previous collaborators, ‘Rhythm & Repose’ co-producer Thomas Bartlett (The National, Sufjan Stevens, Bell X1) and Hansard’s band mate from the Frames, David Odlum (Paloma Faith, Tinariwen).

Bartlett’s particular influence, which Bell X1’s Paul Noonan described to me in this 2013 interview as “bringing the sad”, announces its presence immediately in the instrumentation of ‘Grace Beneath the Pines’ and ‘Wedding Ring’. The emotional turmoil in ‘Grace Beneath the Pines’ is underscored by prominent string and brass arrangements, while the effect is more subtle in the ‘Wedding Ring’, where faint touches of brass behind the gently rocking guitar, piano and drums add a layer of sadness to the air of resignation in Hansard’s vocals as he wonders aloud, “wedding ring, wedding ring / little band of gold / will you be strong enough to keep her / keep her love from growing cold?”

Early single ‘Winning Streak’ is instantly catchy and heartwarming in its adaption of the familiar Irish blessing that begins, “may the road rise up to meet you / may the wind always be at your back”. Hansard’s buoyant lyrics expand on that idea with a list of fond wishes (“through summers long and winters cold / may you always have someone good to hold / may good fortune wait on every bend / and may your winning streak, may it never end”) and uplifting gospel vocals behind its chorus. We featured ‘Winning Streak’ here at TGTF back in July as our Video of the Moment #1841.

Hansard channels Van Morrison in ‘Her Mercy’, a slow burning ode to the feminine mystique. Starting with a slow, swaying rhythm, the song builds to a seductive climax of horns and a soaring gospel chorus behind lyrics that alternate between dark despair and glorious redemption, “when you’re ready for her mercy / when you’re worthy / it will come”.

The spare piano arrangement and evocative violin melody of the introspective ‘McCormack’s Wall’ contrasts sharply with the belligerent brass, pugilistic percussion and defiantly discordant violin line in ‘Lonely Deserter’. An even-keeled dynamic and Hansard’s deeper vocal tone convey a sense of persistence in ‘Paying My Way’, while a twinkling keyboard melody and a bright whistled tune at the end keep the song lighthearted and optimistic. ‘My Little Ruin’ and ‘Just to Be the One’ are both vague and enigmatic, with the muted heartbeat of bass and percussion grounding their lofty melodic figures and Hansard’s emotive vocals. A simple arrangement of voice and acoustic guitar rounds off the album in ‘Stay the Road’, a beseeching ballad that plays almost like a lullaby as Hansard entreats the final lines “tired, tired eyes, look up and see”.

Glen Hansard’s heartfelt lyrics and richly textured singing voice are quite naturally the centerpieces of his intimate and carefully crafted songwriting style. On ‘Didn’t He Ramble’, Hansard has organised a skilled group of collaborators to further express the full range of emotional depth and shade in his songs. The thoughtful and intricate detail of the song arrangements here only serves to enhance Hansard’s well-established talent for penning a poignant tune.


Glen Hansard’s second solo album ‘Didn’t He Ramble’ is due for release tomorrow, Friday the 18th of September, on Anti- Records. Watch the album trailer from his label below. Hansard is scheduled to play a single live date in the UK at Shepherds Bush Empire in London on the 21st of October. Past coverage of Glen Hansard on TGTF can be found right back here.



Video of the Moment #1841: Glen Hansard

By on Wednesday, 1st July 2015 at 6:00 pm

Glen Hansard has announced he will be releasing his second solo album ‘Didn’t He Ramble’ on Anti- Records on the 18th of September, so tonight we have for you a teaser from the Irishman’s forthcoming release. Premiering yesterday as an NPR First Watch, ‘Winning Streak’ is described by director Braden King:

Glen and I talked a lot about the way in which every life is a fight, a struggle. No matter who you are. No matter what you do. They’re all different and they all never end. For me, the song is about that struggle we all face in our own ways and about who has your back along the way. There is no end to it. We may get momentary rests along the way but they are fleeting. We all have to get up again and get back into the ring. And you know, sometimes, those who are the hardest on us are the ones who get us through. The way this turned out, the song kind of became the spirit of this place, the blood running through all these boxers veins. And I love the way in which Glen haunts and inspires it all.

Glen Hansard’s one announced tour date for the autumn is for the 21st of October at London Shepherds Bush Empire, which is currently the end of his European tour that kicks off the 29th of September at Paris La Cigale. Watch the video for ‘Winning Streak’ below.



Album Review: Glen Hansard – Drive All Night EP

By on Monday, 25th November 2013 at 12:00 pm

Ireland’s Glen Hansard, best known as leader of The Frames and half of The Swell Season, has followed up his debut solo album, ‘Rhythm and Repose’, with a new charity EP called ‘Drive All Night’. Sales of the EP will benefit Little Kids Rock, an American nonprofit organization aiming to revitalize music education in public schools.

The ‘Drive All Night’ EP centers on Hansard’s cover of the classic Bruce Springsteen track. This version features an appearance by Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder as well as Jake Clemons (nephew of the late E Street Band member, Clarence Clemons) on saxophone and production by Americana singer-songwriter Joe Henry. Hansard’s singing voice is richer and more melodic than Springsteen’s, adding an extra degree of warmth to his interpretation, which is otherwise true to the smouldering intimacy of the original.

‘Pennies In the Fountain’ and ‘Renata’ are both soulful, yearning love songs crafted to showcase the expressive emotional qualities of Hansard’s singing. The former is a gently rocking piano number in a swaying triple meter whose mournful lyrics, ‘we loved for the joy of love itself / we threw our pennies in the fountain, wished for nothing else’ convey the ephemeral nature of a lost romance. The latter is a bluesy and beseeching torch song with a groove that practically begs for a slow dance in a darkened room.

‘Step Out of the Shadows’, penned impulsively in 2012 just before a show at New York’s Housing Works Bookstore Café, is an impressive nod to Hansard’s traditional folk style. Its simple verse-chorus-verse structure and completely a capella arrangement allow the heavy but hopeful lyrics to make maximum impact. This is the kind of tune that could (and probably did on the aforementioned occasion) reduce the audience to jaw-dropped silence in a live performance. In fact, any of these four tracks would be a fine addition to Hansard’s touring repertoire.


Glen Hansard will play two dates at Dublin’s Vicar Street on the 25th and 26th of November. All proceeds will go to the Peter McVerry Trust and the Dublin Simon Community, both of which work to combat homelessness in Dublin.

‘Drive All Night’ will be released on the 25th of November in the UK (26th of November in America) on Anti Records. It is currently available to stream for a limited timeon the New York Times Web site.


About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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