Few watched this year’s Academy Awards without taking note of Once stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. So, when these two immense talents were scheduled to play in Richmond’s own Toad’s Place (performing under the moniker of The Swell Season) I knew I had to be there.
Few watched this year’s Academy Awards without taking note of Once stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Not only did their performance of “Falling Slowly” stir all the emotions of the film, but Irglová’s heartfelt and inspiring speech might have been one of the best in years. So, when these two immense talents were scheduled to play in Richmond’s own Toad’s Place (performing under the moniker of The Swell Season) I knew I had to be there.
As could be expected, the show sold out far in advance. Honestly, had it not I would have been disappointed in my fellow Richmonders. On the flip side though, a sold out show can be a very taxing event to attend, especially this one; hordes of atypical concert goers and tight quarters rarely make for a great situation. Luckily, nothing terrible went down and most everyone appeared to enjoy the event.
Opening act Joshua James fit squarely within what I had anticipated from an opener on this tour: acoustic, emotionally potent, and right on the fence of accessibility. His tunes were solid, but like everyone else in the audience my attention felt more focused on getting a vantage point for when The Swell Season took to the stage. After a properly mid-length set, James made way for the folks we were all chomping at the bit to see.
Being from a more underground musical background, shows like this always catch me a little off guard. When dealing with musicians of this caliber, the performances can feel a little forced and the intimacy I’ve come to love from seeing bands in much smaller spaces just doesn’t exist. With a passion and skill few truly possess, Hansard defied these stereotypes with an amazing presence. Throughout The Swell Season’s 2 hour set (!!!), he felt genuine and seemingly poured all in him into each melody. Teamed with Irglová pushing on despite battling the flu, the duo offered each song as if they needed to convince the audience of their talent. Such an effort was unnecessary with the palpable sense of the crowd’s affection, but it made the performance all the more impressive
This marks the second show I’ve seen at Toad’s Place that has given me such a wonderful impression (Andrew Bird being the first). If the venue continues to bring in such memorable acts, they will quickly become the Richmond landmark they strive to be.