It was a little too chilly at Pritzker Pavilion, but as the sun set, the fog continued to roll in, and the buildings around us started to disappear as this crazy Irishman rocked the stage. Glen Hansard’s free concert as part of Chicago’s Downtown Sound series felt like a special night – you got the impression that this was one of the most memorable concerts he’d played. Even well into his encore, he kept shouting offstage, “Can we do one more song?”
I knew Glen Hansard’s music mainly from Once, a movie that really made an impression on me. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s a mix between a musical and a movie about music, but it really feels like a documentary. So I was thrilled to hear him perform my two fave songs from the movie – the Academy Award-winning song “Falling Slowly” and the moving “When Your Mind’s Made Up.”
In addition to those two tracks, he also performed several other songs from the Once soundtrack and a variety of songs from his other albums. Hansard is a really dynamic performer – his voice is so raw and he literally puts all his energy into playing and singing when he’s on stage. He stomps his feet, strums the guitar with full force, and tells stories along the way.
By the end of the concert, I felt like an honorary Irishwoman. Towards the end, Hansard brought up a local Chicago girl, Roshi, who greeted him and his band upon their arrival in Chicago with a traditional Irish song. He called her onstage and she sang it for the crowd so sweetly and simply that it gave me goosebumps. And the entire crew ended the concert with another traditional tune, Auld Triangle, featuring verses performed by Hansard, his touring partner Lisa Hannigan, members of the band and even the sound guy.