Hallelujah For Glen Hansard

 In Culture

Barreling drums, the fast strum of acoustic guitars and the throaty howl of a heartsick Irishman could all be heard squeezing out of The Pageant doors in The Delmar Loop last night. Oscar- and Grammy award-winning songwriter Glen Hansard performed a mix of new, old and cover songs for an attentive and adoring crowd.

Photo courtesy of Glen Hansard.

Photo courtesy of Glen Hansard.

Singer-songwriter shows are hard to gauge. While so many of us have cried in our coffee to the heartbreaking ballads of Hansard’s catalogue, it can be hard for some musicians to translate those tunes to an engaging live show. Not so for Hansard. He stacked a large band of impressive musicians behind him onstage, surrounded them with simple lighting and let the songs speak for themselves. His charisma and sometimes foot-stomping energy make tunes that may have seemed weak on the record, soul-stirring to a live audience.

Van Morrisson’s influence is clear in Hansard’s songwriting, so to hear him cover anything from “Astral Weeks”—much less the title track—was lovely. He played that and several other songs solo acoustic including “Say It To Me Now,” which he sang Springsteen-style— unplugged and to a young lady in the audience.

Irish storytelling runs deep in Hansard and in one of the many highlights from the night, he broke for five minutes to recount a meeting on the street he had the night before with an Irish-St. Louisan named Anthony Monaghan.

“I’d like to sing this next song for him. And I’d also like to sing it for my dad; I think they would have got on,” Hansard said, before breaking into “Paying My Way,” a working man’s ballad from his new album.

Hansard started most songs of the night that way. He took the audience with him, describing his European tour, late drunken nights and song origins. Not many singer-songwriters have the confidence to speak to an audience this way. But he grabbed hold of the crowd and at one point had everyone throwing up hallelujah hands as he belted out “Her Mercy.” Hallelujah for Glen Hansard.

Listen to Glen Hansard’s new album “Didn’t He Ramble” on our spotify playlist below. Visit us on Spotify @ALIVEMagSTL.

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