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At Berklee Performance Center
A queue slinked around the sidewalk of Massachusetts Avenue and curious passersby inquired what the commotion could be on the otherwise quiet Tuesday night. The name on everyone’s lips was Academy Award-winning musician and songwriter Glen Hansard. Best known for his work with The Frames, The Swell Season, and his starring role in the film Once, Hansard has been critically acclaimed and recognized by numerous major awards. Last night at the Berklee Performance Center, he performed in support of his most recent solo album, Rhythm and Repose.
Last night was the first night that supporting act The Lost Brothers joined Hansard for the rest of his North American tour. The Lost Brothers are an Irish acoustic duo comprised of Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech. The pair has worked with producer Mike Coykendall, known for working with Bright Eyes, M Ward, and the Decemberists. The Lost Brothers took the stage to a very mixed crowd at Berklee, middle-aged couples, Berklee students, and mothers with their daughters all made it out. The Lost Brothers showcased their musicianship with intricate melodies, powerful vocals, and a harmonica solo or two. McCauseland and Leech are natural performers and their energy on stage immediately reminded me of Matt Costa.
After a brief intermission, the house roared as Hansard took the stage sporting his trademark beanie hat and took a seat at the piano to start the set with, “The Storm, It’s Coming” off of his 2012 release Rhythm and Repose. While Hansard’s album often leans towards the melancholy side, his personality on stage is just the opposite. Hansard and his seven man band playfully joked with each other on stage whether it was poking fun at their baby-faced pianist or Hansard karate chopping the air between tracks. At the end of “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting”, Hansard’s outro segued into a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”.
Hansard’s set was beautifully crafted from beginning to end and lasted nearly two hours. His vocals were on point and gripped each audience members heart strings as he consistently held notes longer and with more fervor than most vocalists I’ve ever seen. His passion is so raw and drips over every fret; Hansard is remarkably able to simultaneously evoke both tears and beaming smiles from the audience. Stand out tracks from the set included “Philander,” “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” “Low Rising,” and an emotional rendition of “Leave” where Hansard added loop after loop to build up the finale ending with him screaming into the belly of the guitar.
Chills flooded throughout the audience during the track “Back Broke” where Hansard asked the audience to gently hum a few notes. “I want you to imagine you are a bunch of angels leaning over the front of a boat in icy waters,” Hansard said as the ethereal sounds reverberated throughout the house.
The crowd was treated to an encore from Hansard with a flawless performance of “Say It To Me Now” that transported the audience right into the streets of Dublin. Followed by a surprising performance cover of Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up,” Hansard ditched his Irish accent for the reggae vibes. The house followed in suit and was on their feet until the final song of the night, a heartfelt “Falling Slowly” featuring a Berklee student on female vocals that Hansard picked out from the front row. Hansard brought his A-game to Boston last night and based on the incredible reception from the audience I have a feeling he’ll be back in the Bean soon.