This Gift, Passing Through, Parting Glass
[Thanks to Courtney for the setlist.]
Glen opens the night by jumping up onto the row of hay bales that separates the stage from the audience. The crowd sits comfortably on blankets upon the grassy hill, and he belts out Say it to Me Now unamplified, silencing any chatter and drawing us into an intimate space.
“What beauty,” he marvels, settling into his seat and looking up at us, at the trees and stars, as the crickets sing into the atmosphere. “There’s music here,” he says with a hint of relief, and we know we’re in for a magical night.The first of several special moments comes when a voice calls out, “Glen, I have a question. What Happens When the Heart Just Stops?” He fingers the chords, thinking. “It’s a beautiful song. Would you play it? Only if you want to!” “I like you,” comes the response, and the in the middle of the song he stops to give its backstory, explaining the way at some point we’ve all prayed to stop feeling so much, and unfortunately sometimes get our wish.
Someone else calls for Brother’s Keeper. It’s the perfect request, as we’re mere hours away from the 1st of October. The song feels light upon its feet, dancing in the cool autumn air.
Perhaps the best moment of the night is when Glen introduces Eva Jackson, a teen who’s been coming to gigs since she was a tiny tot, first joining The Swell Season on stage for a dance to Bananaman back in 2007. She’s become an incredible singer, and lends harmonies to Falling Slowly and Lies, then sings a short a capella version of Lisa Hannigan’s Undertow. Everyone is under the spell. After Grace Beneath the Pines, Glen begins Her Mercy and invites Eva back to sing again if she wants to. She hops back up and her impromptu invention of harmonies to a song she didn’t plan to sing is a total show stopper.
When Glen halts This Gift for a second to scream “I miss you already!” we feel it deeply. These sorts of nights are the balm to the difficulties of being human. With the added hardships and stress of the past year and a half, a few hours of music, community, and connection is what we’ve needed more than anything. May it never be this long again.
Photos (by Patrick Glennon):