17 November 2009


Wholly crip, I'm a crapple.

While leaving my house this afternoon to make my way over to the Swell Season show in Mesa, I missed the last step on my porch and twisted my knee something awful. Naturally, that wasn't enough to keep me from the show, though I did arrive with a pronounced limp.

I'm mighty glad that I did decide to go (I'm a bit of a recluse, and rarely do the social thing these days), because it now ranks among the best live shows I've ever been witness to. Top honors still remain with The Pogues in their prime, touring for If I Should Fall From Grace With God, and with Luka Bloom opening, but tonight's show is only slightly below that.

Though I knew going in that I would enjoy the headliners, the nicest surprise for me was how much I enjoyed the opener, Rachael Yamagata. I had heard her name mentioned in various places around the web, but had not had the pleasure of hearing her music before tonight. Let me just say that I am now a big fan. Most of her set, she was alone on stage playing either piano or guitar, and at times she was joined by guitarist Kevin Salem.

By way of comparison, for those who haven't heard her yet, her sound is a bit similar to Nora Jones, with a bit of Janis Joplin on her bluesier songs. And her personality and sense of humor shown between, and sometimes during, her songs. I will be picking up some of her albums in the near future.

That's all well and good, but what of The Swell Season?

From start to finish, an absolutely electric show. They began with just Mar and Glen sitting in the middle of the stage, performing "Fallen From the Sky", and ended with a blistering rendition of "Fitzcarraldo" (though in the interest of full disclosure, I have never heard a less-than-blistering version of the song). In between they played nearly all the tracks on the new disc, Strict Joy, about half of the Once soundtrack, a smattering of tunes from their first album, and a few other assorted bits and bobs from Frames albums, solo albums, and covers.

Glen was very talkative between songs. Markéta was in fine voice, and as radiant as ever, and the rest of the band were in top form.

The full set list (not completely in order) was: "Fallen From the Sky", "Low Rising", "Feeling the Pull", "Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain" (Willie Nelson cover), "In These Arms", "If You Want Me", "Fantasy Man", "The Rain", "The Moon", "Back Broke", When Your Mind's Made Up", "Lies", "Leave", "Say It To Me Now", "Once", "Rise", "Falling Slowly", Fitzcarraldo"

There was also a Van Morrison cover, the title of which escapes me, a brand new untitled song, and a solo tune from Colm's album, I believe it was "The Court of New Town", but I might be wrong on that one. Oh, and one line from Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing".

I may have missed a song or two in that list, as I was too in to the show to bother keeping track.

The only bad thing about the evening (other than the knee problem), was that I didn't think ahead to bring any cash, so I went home without any goodies. That's my own damn fault, though, and the show was more than enough to make up for my disappointment on that front.

If you have the opportunity to see them, I give them my highest recommendation. If you can't make it to one of their shows, here's a couple of hard to find tracks to ease your pain:

(files expired)

The Swell Season - "Just Walk Away" Unreleased track that's been hanging around on the Web for the past couple years.
The Swell Season - "Into the Mystic" (Van Morrison cover) From a limited edition version of the Once soundtrack.

Now, give up the cash:

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová - The Swell Season, 2006 (buy)
Various Artists - Once, 2007 (buy) (soundtrack)
The Swell Season - Strict Joy, 2009 (buy) (buy deluxe)
Colm Mac Con Iomaire - The Hare's Corner, 2008 (buy Amazon) (buy official)
Rob Bochnik - Blowing the Cobwebs, (buy)
Rachael Yamagata - Elephants. . . Teeth Sinking Into Heart, 2008 (buy)
Rachael Yamagata - Happenstance, 2004 (buy)

And as an added bonus, having nothing to do with the concert, here's a new video from the band Welcome To Ashley, which I mention a couple weeks ago. The video is difinitly a low budget affair, but it does have its charm, and the song is great. I need to hear more from these guys.

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