Glen and the band open for Bruce Springsteen, along with Damien Dempsey and Josh Ritter on the bill. (Photo above by Ivi Rebova)
Setlist: Astral Weeks* (Van Morrison), Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting, Low Rising, When Your Mind’s Made Up, High Hope**, Her Mercy**, This Gift***, Fitzcarraldo, Don’t Do It (Marvin Gaye/The Band), The Auld Triangle**** (Traditional)
**with Moji Abiola
***with Charlotte Blokhuis
****with Damien Dempsey
[Thanks to Fleur for the setlist & notes.]
Band: Glen Hansard, Colm Mac Con Iomaire (violin), Joe Doyle (bass), Rob Bochnik (guitar), Graham Hopkins (drums), Justin Carroll (keys)
Brass: Curtis Fowlkes, Michael Buckley, Ronan Dooney
Strings: Local Musicians
(Photos & Videos down below!)
Well it’s safe to say my expectations for this gig are pretty high. I’ve seen Bruce a fair few times so I know what he’s capable of, and I’ve seen Glen & the lads slightly more than a ‘few’ times so I’m confident that having these musicians on the same stage could result in some pretty amazing performances – fortunately for me (and everyone else at Nowlan Park on Sunday) my aforementioned confidence is completely rewarded!!
The day is pitched as a massive singer-songwriter fest – Josh Ritter, Damien Dempsey, Glen & the lads and then Bruce and the E Street Band – it’s pretty hard to find a better line-up at a show in Ireland.
My only concern is the weather and given the forecast (which was for thunderstorms) I pack every piece of wet weather gear I have and head off to the train station to jump on the Non-Stop Bruce Springsteen Special Service to Kilkenny. It’s sad I know but seeing the words ‘Bruce Springsteen’ on the Departures board at Heuston Station gives me pre-show tingles.
Upon arrival in Kilkenny we are met with a relatively clear blue sky and some sunshine which I’m hoping means the weatherman got it completely wrong (Post Script – he did -there was not a drop of rain all night!!). I’ve never left a gig early due to rain but I tell ya it was hard work in Hyde Park last year watching The Boss with the rain pissing down (and that was before the Council turned him and Sir Paul off!!) so I’m hoping we will be spared that test today.
We head into the venue and grab our ‘pit passes’ – our train was a little late getting in and Josh Ritter’s set has started by the time we get a spot in the front pit. There’s already a lot of people around which I think is a testament to the line-up. Josh’s set is received well by the faithful up the front and there is not a rain cloud to be seen which buoys spirits further.
The Irish Lion that is Damien Dempsey is up next and his opening words on stage are “Dreams do come true”. Let’s face it – standing on Bruce Springsteen’s stage is a pretty fucking big deal for any performer – Bruce is THE man and he is considered the high-watermark in terms of songwriting, live performance and connection with his audience. The incredible invitation to sing on Bruce’s stage is not lost on Damien and his gratitude is evident throughout the whole of his set.
Damien is well-loved in Ireland for his honest, straight-forward performances and as soon as some of his more trad-based numbers start up he has the crowd jigging along with him. There’s some great singalongs and you can feel the overall mood rising with the sunshine. Nice one Damo!!
Glen’s up next and he comes out by himself for a solo version of ‘Astral Weeks’. We can’t hear him initially but once the sound issues are sorted out there’s a roar of recognition from the audience. Glen & the lads only have an hour set so there’s not really time for any classic Glen anecdotes and they just get on with it – the sun is shining brightly and there’s naught to do but relax and enjoy the festivities. Here’s a few notes on some of the highlights:
* They get their groove on during ‘LDLMW’ – most of the audience appear both surprised and delighted by the indomitable spirit of the very impressive brass section of Curtis, Ronan and Michael – the ‘Respect’ tag goes down an absolute treat.
* Rob’s fantasy (as told by Glen) of having someone flash him after his ‘Low Rising’ solo is realised today. Not only do we get (very) white chest flashes from Glen himself and a number of lads in the audience, but one lass pops up on someone’s shoulders down front and obliges with a flash of her own. There is a strong mixture of laughter and embarrassment from a number of quarters but it’s all in good fun (and Rob didn’t even have to leave the band to join Guns ‘n’ Roses!!).
* Moji Abioloa from Texas is invited up to duet with Glen on ‘High Hope’ and ‘Her Mercy’. There’s something so profoundly emotional about Moji’s voice – it fits right in with the tunes and everyone on stage and in the audience reacts when she lets loose. Keep an eye out for Moji cos she’s chock full of talent!
* ‘This Gift’ has an interesting start. Glen calls out for friend Charlotte Blokhuis to come and sing with him – the only slight issue is that Charlotte is standing behind me in the crowd completely unaware that Glen was going to call on her!! She races from her spot, gets past the front barricade and then runs straight up the ‘Bruce Ramp’ in front of the stage in perfect timing for the start of the song – not a bad entrance Charlotte!! And this version is pretty kick ass too with our own Graham Hopkins absolutely giving it some on drums!
* Damo Dempsey comes out to end out the set and to trade verses with Glen & the lads on ‘The Auld Triangle’. There is a spirited singalong with the crowd and we are now officially ready for The Boss and the E Street Band!!
I could go on all day about Bruce’s performance (if you want details then just head here. I have seen him many times and he has delivered on every single occasion). The fact that he is 63 years old is UNBELIEVABLE – I remain astounded at his verve and vigour and there is talk from many Irish patrons in the crowd who believe he is some sort of supernatural being who lives in Tír na nÓg (‘Land of the Young’) – which is a place of eternal youth and beauty where music, strength, life, and all pleasurable pursuits come together in a single place – I gotta say, I think there’s something in that and I think tonight that place might just be located in Kilkenny!!
The absolute highlight of the night (and my musical summer) is seeing Bruce invite Glen onto the stage to duet with him on ‘Drive All Night’ to huge cheers from the crowd. I commented before that being on Bruce’s stage is a fucking big deal – being invited to actually sing with Bruce on one of Bruce’s songs is even a step above that and it is very evident that Glen is pretty much beside himself with happiness. It’s a religious experience watching Glen being anointed by one of music’s high priests, and Glen’s vocal performance is outstanding. It’s corny I know but the Glen/Frames fans I am with in the audience are bursting with pride – hearts are filled to capacity and you know that this moment will be remembered for years to come!
At the end of Bruce’s set we are completely spent – a happy kind of exhaustion sets in as we make our way back to Dublin in the wee hours of Sunday morning – we are already reminiscing about the musical performance we have seen and we are still pinching ourselves about what we have witnessed.
Bruce – you da man!!! 🙂
We have some from Ivi Rebova & Fleur Neale (see Fleur’s set on Flickr) & Annette Zang. Thanks!
Low Rising (by valedami)
When Your Mind’s Made Up (by valedami)
Don’t Do It (by valedami)
The Auld Triangle (by bossaddict)
Drive All Night – Here Comes the Night (by Dan French)