Outside of the classical realm, very few performers are able to pull off a live performance in which they play a full set without the benefit or support of a backing band. When Eddie Vedder and Glen Hansard promised to do so a few years ago — with Vedder playing songs on the ukulele, no less — I was so intrigued by the prospect of two well-established musicians performing as a true solo act that I picked up a pair of tickets to the show in order to see both performers live and in person. It was a long journey for me to get there, and I had to do some quick research on laughlin nv bus tours if I was going to be able to get to the show on time, but the effort required to arrive at the venue on time ultimately proved to be more than worthwhile.
I was familiar with both musicians well before then, but I was less so with Hansard than with Vedder due to the latter’s long career as the frontman for Pearl Jam. While I was unbelievably impressed with Vedder’s electrifying ukulele set, I was incredibly moved by Hansard’s performance. I was particularly moved by his vocals, which carried to the back of the concert hall without a microphone and seemed to genuinely reflect the emotion of each song he performed on stage.
So when I recently came across a cover version of David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes,” which was performed by Hansard in the aftermath of the rock icon’s passing, I knew that those in the audience that day must have been able to truly feel every emotion expressed musically by Hansard. Even just listening to the recording conveyed the virtuosic power of music as expressed by Hansard, a wonderful musician whose solo work is absolutely worthy of the highest praise.
Whenever I listen to Hansard’s playing with the Swell Season and now through his solo work, I will remember how the Irish musician understands how powerful music can be and how all performers have the rare opportunity to connect with an audience through a live performance. From what I recall about the Hansard-Vedder performance, Vedder was the more talkative of the two and seemed more willing to engage the audience in a bit of banter, but I also remember walking away feeling as though I learned a great deal about Hansard as well. The difference, of course, is that Hansard was able to use the power of musical performance to convey the emotion he was feeling, and that is something that orchestral performers can certainly relate to.