Beth and I went to see the Swell Season a couple nights ago. You remember the Swell Season, don’t you? They’re Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard from that movie Once. Everybody was talking about them last year. Add those two to Glen’s old band, the Frames, and you’ve got the Swell Season. That’s musical math right there.
The opening act was a guy named Thomas Bartlett who has unfortunately saddled himself with the horrible name, Doveman. I went in hating him just because of his stupid name. He turned out to be really good, though. He played five originals off his new CD, The Conformist. He also played a medley of songs from the soundtrack to Footloose. Good stuff all around.
What can I say about the Swell Season? I don’t know. I guess it makes me happy that people who make good, quality music have had so much success. I went to Target this afternoon and saw about 130 copies of Rihanna’s new one for sale. I got all depressed that shit like that is being pushed upon the listening public. Then I saw that Target was also selling the new Swell Season CD. That’s how much success they’ve had over the last couple of years; you can buy a copy of Strict Joy at Target. It almost makes me feel like there’s a tiny bit of hope for the world.
But anyway, we saw the concert at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. It’s a fantastic venue and featured some of the most crisp sound I’ve heard in a long time. Unfortunately, the acoustics meant you could hear everything…including the crazy lady who ranted for about five minutes right before Glen’s solo mini-set. I don’t know what the fuck she was going on about, but she was clearly nuts. Glen played along with her for awhile, but eventually had enough and told her husband, “You’ve gotta do something about your lady.” He said it in a friendly way, though. I think he was probably afraid of getting stabbed after the show. That was one of the strangest things I’ve ever witnessed at a concert. Almost ruined it for me.
Actually, now that I think of it, a lot of things happened at the concert that would normally ruin the evening for me. People laughed when Glen Hansard played a Glen Campbell song. “Rhinestone Cowboy” isn’t funny. “Rhinestone Cowboy” kicks ass. Quit your laughing, you morons! That right there would normally be enough to sour an evening for me.
Also, there were far too many audience sing-alongs. I don’t want to hear the rube sitting behind me belting out “High Horses”. I want to hear Glen and Marketa (and maybe some Frames) sing it. And yet, I didn’t really mind that Glen gave the audience parts in three or four of the songs. I even sang very quietly to the last song of the evening. It’s like aliens had control of my brain.
And then there was my usual least favorite concert occurrence…when the band brings someone I’ve never heard of up on the stage. It’s usually an audience member who gets to shake a tambourine or sing off-key background vocals. This time it was a busker named Shannon Jay (or J. or Jae) who Glen had discovered earlier in the day singing Dylan over by the downtown J. Crew. He not only brought her up on the stage, but he and the rest of the band left and let her sing a song all by herself. This woman was ballsy, too. She didn’t play a Dylan cover…she played her own original five minute ballad called “The Sailor Boy”. She was pretty damn good, too.
All that annoying crap took place over the course of one concert and I didn’t even care. It didn’t ruin my night even the slightest bit. I had a great time. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen all year. Still, I kind of wish they hadn’t laughed so hard at Glen Campbell.
Here are the setlists for the evening:
Doveman’s setlist: The Best Thing/Memorize/Angel’s Share/The Burgundy Stain/Footloose Medley (Footloose/Let’s Hear It for the Boy/Almost Paradise)/Castles
The Swell Season’s main set: Fallen From the Sky (Glen & Marketa duet)/Lies (Glen & Marketa duet)/Low Rising/In These Arms/The Rain/The Moon/If You Want Me/Fantasy Man/(crazy lady rant)/Say It to Me Now (Glen solo)/Leave (Glen solo)/Rhinestone Cowboy (Glen Campbell cover/Glen solo)/Back Broke (Glen solo)/Astral Weeks (Van Morrison cover/Glen solo)/The Count of New Town (performed by Colm Mac Con Iomaire)/Rise/I Have Loved You Wrong/Once/When Your Mind’s Made Up
The Swell Season’s encore: Falling Slowly/The Sailor Boy (performed by a busker)/High Hope/High Horses/Breathing Out (performed by Doveman)/Red Cord–>A Parting Glass (Clancy Brothers cover)
And here are some pictures and scans relating to the evening: