Glen Hansard took the stage solo, accompanied only by his trademark acoustic guitar. He played two of his own songs, asking the audience to sing along with him. His Irish tenor was on full display, and the audience swooned. But the set really got going when he invited Jake Clemons onstage for a cover of a Bruce Springsteen's "Sad Eyes." (The cover was apt and meaningful because Clemons is the nephew of recently deceased, longtime E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons.) When Clemons had a chance to solo, he did so ferociously, riling the crowd up with his powerful runs and melodies. It was a hair-raising, moving experience.
Hansard added to the intensity by roaring his way through that and the next song, Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks." Hansard amped up the excitement even more for the latter tune by inviting several members of Lost in the Trees to guest on drums and bass. Even though they men hadn't practiced together, the newly-assembled band attacked the song, eliciting screams and cheers from the audience.
The two covers rocked on for so long that Hansard only had time to finish with an a capella tune of Irish descent. The tune, sung from the perspective of the corpse at a funeral, was a celebratory tune; Hansard taught the audience to sing along, and they did so with gusto. In contrast to Hansard's emotive side (which was on display in the first two tunes) and celebratory side (the next two), the final tune was tinged with a wistful respect; Hansard is a man who can thrive in any musical mood. He toasted to his father at the end of the song, and Clemons toasted with him; it was a fitting end to a magnificent, tremendous set.
Photos by Matt Carney