By Eric Sather
Glen Hansard’s last Vancouver concert in 2012 was one of the best shows I’d ever seen. Somehow this one topped it.
The singer was funny, warm, entertaining, and full of energy. In one moment, he had 4,000 people sitting in a calm silence, in awe of his beautiful ballads. And in another, he had everyone on their feet screaming and cheering like tweens at a Justin Bieber concert.
Yes, Hansard put on quite the performance at the Orpheum on Thursday evening (November 12). The heavy downpour and gusty weather was inconvenient yet somehow perfectly fitting for his show. A quaint performance by Aoife O’Donovan set the mood perfectly for the Irish headliner.
The grandiose stage of the Orpheum was charmingly filled by a string duo of viola and cello and a trio of horns, both of which warmly complemented Hansard’s performance.
The show was part of a tour to support his latest release, Didn’t He Ramble, and he performed several of the tracks off the album. Although there are many classics which all of his fans have come to know and love, Hansard never seems to disappoint with well-balanced set lists of old and newer songs.
Many would probably agree that one of his best qualities, musical abilities aside, would be his story-telling. Before many songs, Hansard took time to describe and explain the story behind their creations. These stories ranged from funny and comical, to hearfelt and romantic.
One story that stood out as especially touching was his recollection of recently performing with and entertaining Syrian refugees in train stations in Europe. Inspired by that, “Way Back in the Way Back When” explores an emotional topic; the tragic and tough stories of refugees and travellers. The last line of the chorus, “Living, breathing, broken-hearted but believing”, hit home.
Just his voice and guitar were enough to fill the massive hall with warmth and sound on the night, as everyone sat at the edge of their seats in great appreciation.
Hansard topped the evening off with acoustic performances of the songs “Gold” and “Say It to Me Now”, his encore fuelled by a standing ovation. The encore led to a second one, with a full-band performance of “Her Mercy”, which had everyone breaking out their dancing shoes.
In suitable Irish ways, Hansard and co. left Vancouver with a touching performance of “The Auld Triangle” that gathered the whole crowd in singing, including the stage assistant.
Thank you, Glen Hansard, for sharing your creativity, your story-telling, your comedy, and your musical talents with us. You are always welcome in Vancouver, and I think I speak for all your fans in this city when I say we cannot wait to see you again.