Support: The Lost Brothers
Main Set: Grace Beneath the Pines, Winning Streak, My Little Ruin, Philander, When Your Mind’s Made Up, Bird of Sorrow, Leave*, 930/White Sulfur* (Jason Molina), What Happens When the Heart Just Stops**, Come Away to the Water***, Autobahn (Kraftwerk) – Talking With the Wolves, McCormack’s Wall, Lowly Deserter, Way Back When, Paying My Way, Didn’t He Ramble, Her Mercy
Encore: Say It to Me Now****, Gold***** (Interference), Falling Slowly, This Gift, Passing Through****** (Leonard Cohen)
**Glen and Rob
***Glen, Romy and Brad
****Glen solo off mic in the crowd
*****Glen and Rob off mic in the crowd
******verses by Glen, Rob, Romy, Ronan on trumpet, Curtis on trombone and Brad
[Thanks to Fleur for the setist, notes & photos.]
Band: Glen Hansard (guitar, mandolin, piano), Rob Bochnik (guitar, mandolin, bozouki), Brad Albetta (bass), Earl Harvin (drums), Romy (piano), Michael Buckley (saxophone, flute), Ronan Dooney (trumpet), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Jeanie Lim (viola), Simone Vitucci (cello)
Notes (by Fleur): Smack bang in the centre of Zurich is tonight’s venue, Volkshaus. It is a grand old building on the outside and functions on a number of different levels – restaurant, event centre and musical venue. In checking out the location of the building I see references to numerous and varied artists who have graced the theatre – including Kraftwerk and New Order. I am told by my local Swiss tour buddy that he has seen everything from death metal bands to classical artists play here so it seems that the acoustics are built for all kinds musical endeavours.
Volkshaus is general admission tonight on the floor with some limited seating on a second level. I understand it holds around 1500 people when full (as it is for tonight’s sold out show) so it’s intimate which is just how Glen and the band seem to like it.
Here’s some of my notes from show:
* There’s another new opener for tonight (just to keep things interesting!) in the form of the delicate and contemplative ‘Grace Beneath the Pines’ (which also opens DHR). This is one of the rare occasions where Glen is not playing an instrument, and as the band start up Glen is a picture of stillness before the mic. The string section of Jeannie (violin) and Simone (cello) on the intro sound gorgeous and it instantly focuses the audience’s eyes and minds. There’s a somewhat eerie tone to this tune which is also assisted by the lighting – Glen is completely enveloped by darkness – this is of course very effective although I note that myself and the other photographers allowed to shoot the first three songs with our DSLRs are muttering ‘bloody hell’ under our breaths!
* I notice throughout the show tonight that Glen is very physical on stage – meaning that on several occasions he can be seen throwing his body (and guitar) around and dancing maniacally as if he is trying to raise the song to another level. The first evidence of this is in ‘Bird of Sorrow’ – the version of which we are given tonight can only be described as absolutely impassioned as Glen’s body convulses as he repeatedly declares “I’m not leaving you here”.
* Glen grabs the baritone uke during the semi-solo part of the set and proceeds to give some background to the next tune ‘Come Away to the Water’. Most know that this song formed part of the Hunger Games soundtrack. It seems, however, that the beginnings of the song were sitting in the back of Glen’s mind for some time before being brought to the forefront by that project. Of particular inspiration was a moving encounter Glen recalls whilst being in New York when he was 21. Whilst on a ramble (see what I did there?) in the East Village, Glen came across a large pile of rubbish sitting out on the street. What was unusual about this collection was that it seemingly included personal remnants of someone’ s life – such as family photos and pornography – items which would not normally be so publicly disposed of. It later occurred to Glen that the particular rubbish pile he happened upon was likely to be the result of an AIDS-related death where the man in question died in his apartment as hospitals could not (or perhaps would not at the time) cope with the epidemic that swept through New York in the 80s. Upon this man’s death, it appears that his personal possessions were unceremoniously dumped on the street in order for the apartment to be immediately turned over to a new tenant. Glen tells us that this encounter inspired him to write a song from death’s perspective – where, rather than arriving and causing fear, death instead enters gently and invites the soul in question to come away with him. It’s an intriguing concept and a moving story.
* There’s a spontaneous signing session in ‘Talkin With the Wolves’ where someone down the front hands up to Glen a vinyl Rhythm & Repose cover (complete with a sharpie attached) and Glen covers his real face with his painted album face and dances. Glen then obligingly (and mid-song) signs the record and hands it back to the owner – who said musicians can’t multi- task on stage?
* ‘Way Back When’ is a treat – this is another apparent work in progress which has, as far as us plebs are aware, not yet been recorded by Glen in any form. This is an all-in band version and is significantly more rockin than I’ve seen on previous occasions. It’s been a while since this tune has been given an outing but there’s some great crowd participation moments – more of this please!
* For the encore Glen comes off the stage and makes his way through the crowd to the back of the floor space and jumps up on a table to give us a fabulous off-mic version of ‘Say it to Me Now’. He is very shortly thereafter joined by Rob on guitar and vocals for an intimate version of ‘Gold’ facing those behind them (complete with digging action from Glen at “How long do you think before they’d start digging?”). The effect of an artist physically coming to the heart of an audience cannot, in my opinion, be under-estimated. Glen is one of very few artists who chooses to physically go in to the audience on a regular basis, and suffice to say it lights up the Swiss crowd and infuses the atmosphere with an incredible sense of goodwill.
* Another example of Glen’s physical performance tonight shows itself in ‘This Gift’. Toward the end of the song Glen has shredded his guitar to the extent that he has had to ditch it – cue some manic dancing and Glen up-ending the entire contents of his bottle of water on himself. There’s a real sense of reckless abandon going on but it seems our troubadour may have forgotten to take account of the results of his actions when he returns to dance like a mad-man but ends up on the floor after slipping on the wet slick around him. He’s ok and jumps back up and it just adds to the dramatic end to the song.
Danke to the Swiss crowd who really stood up and participated despite having a reputation of being somewhat reserved. Glen and the band have been really spoilt by amazing audiences at the shows I have attended – may it continue!! See more of Fleur’s photos below & at Flickr.
When Your Mind’s Made Up (by fabio cucuta)
Passing Through (by 2wissmagic)