In June I had the absolute joy of seeing Glen Hansard perform during his tour to promote the release of Rhythm and Repose, his first solo album apart from The Frames and The Swell Season. Glen Hansard is simply one of the best vocalists I have ever heard, and his performances always leave me immensely impressed by his completely raw yet impeccable quality. I had seen Glen three times before, but during this tour I was able to catch a free show of his at Amoeba Records in Hollywood. The opportunity to see him perform in a smaller environment like that was not one I wanted to pass up.
Later that week I saw Glen perform at The Wiltern, and I think what struck me the most was how simliar his small, in-store performance persona is to his large music hall persona. He is exactly the same. The way he banters with the crowd, the stories he tells between (and sometimes during) his songs, his absolute passion for pure music--stripped bare of equipment and electronics. I was also impacted by his complete and total love for Ireland. This is a type of national pride that I don't often see here in the states, one that involves a deep sense of nostalgia and reverence for the journey he, his ancestors, and his countrymen have taken together. He typically ends his performances with a traditional song or lullaby that he feels compelled to share with his audience so that they too might be able to partake in the message of hope and inspiration that have encouraged the Irish for so many generations.
In light of our own Independence Day, I'm left reflecting on the huge difference between national pride in America and in Ireland. Here, our young country is filled with a boisterous hope for the future celebrated by fireworks and beer. In Ireland, this pride seems to run so much deeper and is marked by a true and sincere love for the country and its people who have weathered strife, famine, and war for centuries. (Though I can't deny that beer and other libations are heavily implicated in their celebrations).
And music. Oh, how Ireland is marked by music.
After my week of Glen Hansard, I can't help but revisit one of my trips to Ireland. I absolutely love this country and cannot wait to return. It's safe to say that Ireland is a close runner-up to France in my opinion. And I really really love France.
Ireland, I love you.