The Swell Season @ The Riverside Theater
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Much of the
crowd at last night’s sold-out Swell Season show was lured by one song:
“Falling Slowly,” the endearingly modest ballad that the duo of Glen Hansard
and Marketa Irglova memorably performed during the Academy Awards (and for
which they took home an Oscar.) Having to live up to the expectations of that
vulnerable, fish-out-of-water performance night after night must surely prove a
challenge for the duo, but for at least last night’s show they found a novel
I’ve got to
give credit where it’s due: Any band that goes the extra mile to coordinate
this kind of performance mid-tour deserves some respect. And, I’ve also got to
pass this message to the
Hansard pushed his luck by keeping the choir onstage for a second song, a curious cover of The Pixies’ “Gigantic,” a track by most standards too sexually and racially charged for a middle-school choir. The performance was cute but uncomfortable—maybe it would have gone down easier had Hansard not hemmed over the song’s naughty bits and spelled out its meaning (it’s about “a dubious relationship between a white woman and a black man,” he explained, presumably to the chagrin of more than one parent).
Forgive me for going here, but I’m surprised nobody else has taken umbrage over this: As charming and talented as he may be, Hansard seems to have a bit of a history of corrupting youth. The late-thirtysomething has, after all, been dating his teenage collaborator Irglova for an unknown period of time. Audiences seem to find their May-December relationship romantic—that whiff of taboo poetic—but seeing the in-concert pairing between the seasoned, confident Hansard and the unsure, childlike Irglova made these songs feel less about timeless love than statutory rape.