Main Set: Discussion with John, Young Hearts Run Free (Candi Staton), Discussion, When I Paint My Masterpiece (Bob Dylan), Discussion, Broken-Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy, Lies, Discussion, Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting, McCormack’s Wall/On Black River, Revelate, Lucky Man, No Regrets (Walker Brothers), Fake, Moving On, Fitzcarraldo, Drive All Night* (Bruce Springsteen) – Sweet Jane* (Velvet Underground) – Parting Glass* (Traditional), Heyday (Mic Christopher), The Beast, Lay Me Down, This Gift, Her Mercy
Encore: Spencer the Rover (Traditional – a capella)
*with audience member Gerald Vickers, Fiacre Gaffney and Mic Geraghty
[Thanks to Fleur for the setlist, photos & notes.]
Tonight is billed as a night of music and conversation with John Kelly and Glen. For those that don’t know, John Kelly is an Irish broadcaster – he’s a real music man and can be found both on radio and TV in Ireland. People may know John best as the presenter of Other Voices on which The Frames have appeared on a number of occasions.
John and Glen take a seat onstage and a relaxed conversation interspersed with some tunes from Glen follows for the next 100 minutes. It’s pretty clear that John and Glen have a great rapport which comes from a friendship spanning a couple of decades. John leads the conversation with some very insightful questions which cover (amongst other things) how Glen views success, what his drive is and his songwriting process.
After their chat, Glen steps up to the mic and invites requests and questions from the crowd. He plays for another 90 minutes and leaves the stage around 11.45pm – it’s a three-plus hour show worthy of comparisons to The Boss.
I’m obviously not going to run through all the topics covered in conversation, but I’ll try to share some highlights:
* The conversation starts with a declaration by Glen that Halloween is his favourite night of the year. He shares his childhood memories of holidays in Blackpool where his family undertook a yearly tradition of “acquiring” illicit fireworks, importing them back to Dublin and selling them to the locals from their Ballymun home. Boys, fire, backyard sales – yep everyone’s a pyro in their youth at some stage!
* John asks Glen about his first recollections of music and we get a story about a young Glen being bathed in the sink with his Ma teaching him Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bird on a Wire’, and his Ma subsequently calling the whole family to order to watch Bob Dylan’s film for ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ on the telly. That, says Glen, kicked off his Dylan obsession which remains strong to this day. John and Glen then exchange Bob Dylan tales told to them by Liam Clancy – it’s a diversion from the subject at hand but the stories are hilariously funny and frankly I’d be happy to sit and listen to them exchange Dylan anecdotes all day.
* The subject of Bruce is raised and Glen shares the memories of his first meeting with Bruce after a gig at the RDS in Dublin and the advice given to him to acknowledge and mark his successes and to shed the spectre of the struggling musician so that he can face the new struggles of dealing with success and maintaining the integrity in his work. It’s pretty powerful stuff and Glen declares that the conversation “made him a man” and allowed him to jettison the embarrassment he’d been carrying since the Oscar win. The Boss strikes again!!
* There’s a great discussion about self-belief and its results with references to Morrissey and Bono. Glen is philosophical about how he and his work are viewed and quite rightly points out on a number of occasions that he has little control over how he is perceived and that he feels it best to leave the way in which he and his music are documented to others.
* John brings up the making of ‘Once’ and the phenomenal story of its success. Glen tells us that there was extensive discussion as to whether the two characters were to share a kiss at the end of the film and everyone ended up agreeing that they shouldn’t as it would turn the film into an average romcom with musical interludes. A kiss was in fact filmed but not used. Glen also shares the story of how the film end up being included in the Sundance Film Festival – John Carney entered the film but was initially denied. The film was accepted in the Galway Film Festival and by a serendipitous coincidence someone from Sundance happened to be on holiday in Galway at the time and saw a screening of the film and thereafter arranged for it to be included in the Sundance Film Festival despite it having been originally denied. It ended up winning the hearts of film goers at Sundance and won the audience award – and the rest they say is history. I am sure I am not the only one in the audience who finds it difficult to comprehend that such a random series of events could lead to the local hero that Glen is being catapulted to international fame.
* John then delves into Glen’s songwriting process and Glen admits that he is not a particularly disciplined songwriter as he is fearful of scaring the muse (who cannot be called upon or expected to appear at any specific time or place). He therefore does not sit down with a cup of coffee and a candle at a stated time to write – instead he writes when looking for something to do or when he seeks to deal with some internal turmoil. I suspect that this admission would lead to many other songwriters mumbling “bastard” under their breaths 🙂
* In respect to Glen’s set after the chat – I am delighted to hear a raft of new songs in the mix. ‘McCormack’s Wall/On Black River’ (previously called ‘Lark in the Morning’) is the stand out for me of the new tracks and finds Glen at the piano away from his trusty six strings. Glen invites the crowd to shout out requests – most of which are for Frames tunes – and we are treated to some great acoustic versions of ‘Revelate’, ‘Fake’ and a bare bones ‘Fitzcarraldo’.
* The highlight of the set springs from an audience request. An audience member asks Glen to perform ‘Drive All Night’ dedicated to his (ex) girlfriend who split up with him 6 hours ago. Glen of course obliges but suggests that the audience member’s pain may be somewhat alleviated if he assists with the vocals. Said audience member jumps up and expertly delivers the first verse, following which Fiacre and Mic also take to the stage on electric guitar and piano respectively to add a more rounded sound to the number. Glen, Fiacre and the audience member then exchange verses and it segues into a version of ‘Sweet Jane’ and then into ‘Parting Glass’ – great stuff!!
I really enjoyed the format of this event and hope that Glen and John will consider doing something similar again in the future as it’s a great way to get some insight into Glen as an artist and his work.
Drive All Night (by Karl Browne)