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The Swell Season — Plenty to Talk About


by Stephen Becker 30 Sep 2008

The Swell Season, a.k.a. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, a.k.a. the two stars of the indie smash Once, finally hit town Monday night, playing to a capacity crowd at the Palladium Ballroom. After wearing grooves into the film’s soundtrack from playing it so much, I can’t say I was disappointed in the live incarnation. But […]

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The Swell Season, a.k.a. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, a.k.a. the two stars of the indie smash Once, finally hit town Monday night, playing to a capacity crowd at the Palladium Ballroom. After wearing grooves into the film’s soundtrack from playing it so much, I can’t say I was disappointed in the live incarnation. But I could have gone for a little more music.

Through some double- and triple-time strumming, Hansard got more out of an acoustic guitar than any man could, and when he and Irglova harmonized, you couldn’t help but swoon. And they didn’t make the crowd wait for the goods, belting out their Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly” two songs into the night.

But never let it be said that the Irish gift for gab passed ol’ Glen by. After the former Frames frontman introduced a new song, he felt the need to go on and on (and on) about its meaning, effectively killing any momentum the previous song produced. The irony here is, though the songs have perfectly meaningful lyrics, the real beauty of the group is just listening to the delicate interplay of the male and female voice. They could have sung in Japanese and the listener could grasp those feelings of longing and love that Hansard wanted to make sure we understood.

Still, between all the talk, the show was filled with transcendent moments, including two Van Morrison covers and a sing-along version of Austin’s Daniel Johnston’s “Life in Vain.” A sign out by the souvenir stand said the show will be available soon at playedlastnight.com. It’s one that’s worth owning if you’re a Swell Season fan. Feel free to skip through the chatter if you get it.

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