The Swell Season at The Centre

A few months back someone tweeted that The Swell Season was coming to town. I'm sure there was more to the tweet than that, perhaps some mention of "Once", a great littel film from a few years ago, because The Swell Season is a group made up of Irish musician Glen Hansard and Czech singer and pianist Markéta Irglová - the two lovers in "Once".

I picked up a pair of tickets, intending on going with a girlfriend who decided to bail on the show when she discovered it landed in the middle of the week (can't say I blame her - she lives out in Surrey) so I harnessed the power of Twitter once more and landed a date with the very awesome KC Dyer, a local author of children's lit.

I've been to The Centre a few times in the past but never sat in one of the alcoves which, by the way, are the best seats in the house. Here's our view of the stage from our seats:

And here's the view of the main seating area (floor) down below:

The show started with a performance from New York artist Thomas Bartlett. He's the voice behind Doveman, an artist collective which has released a few albums. Bartlett played an assortment of tunes from his new album "The Conformist." He was a chatty character but very entertaining and his music was mournful and romantic. It's a bit dark in this photo but KC noted that he plays curled over, much like Glenn Gould:

The Swell Season took the stage after a short break and rocked the house for the next two hours. It was an amazing show which included an assortment of songs from the band's new album "Strict Joy," from the "Once" soundtrack and even a few tunes from "The Frames" which joined the duo on stage and played accompaniment for most of the show. At one point, the band left the stage and Glen unplugged and stepped down off the stage. He told a wonderful story about a woman and a coat, played a little ditty and then stepped back on the stage. It was a wonderful moment. Again, hard to see but yes, that is Glen all alone...

At one point, Colm Mac Con Iomaire (of The Frames), came out to play a gorgeous, tear inducing rendition of an Irish love song on his violin. It was truly breathtaking. I look forward to taking in more form Iomaire when I get my hands on his new album titled "The Hare's Corner" which you can buy (ah ha!) right here! Good thing too because I waited in a huge merch line after the show only to get up front and find that those CDs were all gone.

The show wrapped at 10:30ish after two well deserved standing ovations.

I've had a great year for shows but this was definitely the highlight. The music was fantastic (even if Glen and Markéta seem a little awkward around each other) and the venue beautifully showcased both of their voices. A night I won't forget any time soon and yes, I'd spend good money to see them at it again.


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