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Live Review: Glen Hansard with Colm Mac Con Iomaire at Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ – 27th September 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 12th October 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

In sharp contrast to the sparsely attended gig I saw in Phoenix on the last Monday night in September, that week’s Tuesday night show at Tucson’s Rialto Theatre was packed to the gills, with fans lining up outside over an hour ahead of doors to see Irish singer/songwriter Glen Hansard. Though Hansard’s fame on American shores came largely from the movie-turned-Broadway-musical ‘Once’, his more recent repertoire, including 2015 album ‘Didn’t He Ramble’, has also been well-received, as evidenced by the large turnout in Tucson on the night.

I was motivated to arrive early to the show myself to see the support act, violinist and composer Colm Mac Con Iomaire. We at TGTF were introduced to Mac Con Iomaire at SXSW 2015, where he regaled us with a memorable riverboat performance hosted by Generator NI. However, those familiar with Glen Hansard’s storied career will know that Mac Con Iomaire is also Hansard’s bandmate in The Frames, and his appearance here was integrated into Hansard’s show even beyond his supporting slot.

"Colm

Mac Con Iomaire played a elegant and pleasantly prolonged opening set of instrumental music that warmed the crowd up nicely, beginning with the lovely ‘Emer’s Dream’ and finishing with ‘Thou Shalt not Carry Timber’, both from his 2008 solo album ‘The Hare’s Corner’. In the middle of his set, he played through several newer pieces from 2015 LP ‘And Now the Weather’, including a bittersweet dedication to his late sister (whom he referred to very quaintly as having been “promoted” to heaven), titled ‘In the Arms of the Angels’. Mac Con Iomaire demonstrated his compositional skill as well as his technical versatility, switching from violin to acoustic guitar for the recently commissioned ‘Solasta’, which he also performed recently for RTÉ Radio 1.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/BeXYAZ8kjBU[/youtube]

Hansard himself took the stage with a large entourage of accompanying musicians, including a string quartet, and opened not with one of his own songs, but with a rearranged version of ‘Sunken Waltz’, originally by Tucson natives Calexico. Having thus successfully charmed his way into the hearts of his Old Pueblo fans, Hansard then dived headlong into his own repertoire, which was no less eagerly anticipated. ‘Paying My Way’ and ‘Renata’ were early highlights of the set, both prefaced by engaging, though possibly somewhat embellished, banter from an Irishman with a willing and captive audience.

Glen Hansard internal orch

Commentary on the currently volatile American political climate was not to be avoided, I suppose, and in very Irish fashion, Hansard dedicated ‘Winning Streak’ to defeated American presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Later in the set, he performed an inspired version of Woody Guthrie’s classic ‘Vigilante Man’, with verses altered to name presidential candidate Donald Trump in a rather less than flattering metaphor. However, unlike fellow songwriter Foy Vance in Phoenix earlier in the month, Hansard’s political remarks were met with vocal agreement from the more liberal Tucson crowd.

Glen internal solo

Following a lively and naturally verbose exposition, ‘McCormack’s Wall’ was one of the night’s uptempo focal points. But having been billed as ‘An Intimate Evening with Glen Hansard’, the show included some nice softer moments as well, with ‘Wedding Ring’ making an appearance early in the set and both ‘Falling Slowly’ and a solo acoustic version of ‘Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting’ coming later on.

Near the end of the show, a dedicated and clearly emotional fan in the front row took advantage of a quiet spell to offer a book of her poetry to Hansard. In a genuine moment of personal interaction, Hansard not only took the poems but invited the young lady onstage to read one of them, while he accompanied on guitar. Flustered but determined to be courageous, she accepted, and was rewarded with an experience that she will no doubt tell her own stories about for years to come.

Hansard closed the set proper with rousing versions of ‘High Hope’ and my recent favourite ‘Her Mercy’. The more than 2-hour show truly seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, and of course the enthusiastic Tucson crowd pleaded for more. With his characteristic warmth and grace, Hansard acknowledged our applause by returning to the stage for a fond and singularly appropriate farewell in the form of ‘Song of Good Hope’.

Glen Hansard set list

A full listing of Glen Hansard’s upcoming worldwide tour dates can be found on his official Facebook. TGTF’s complete archive on Glen Hansard is right through here, and our previous coverage of Colm Mac Con Iomaire is this way.

 

Live Gig Video: Colm Mac Con Iomaire
 performs ‘Bláth’ (Flower) at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City

 
By on Thursday, 5th November 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Back in September, accomplished Irish fiddler from Dublin Colm Mac Con Iomaire played three sold out shows in New York City at Rockwood Music Hall. Luckily for those of us who weren’t able to be there, Shane G. Mahon was present to chronicle Colm’s time in the Big Apple with this behind the scenes tour video from his visit to our shores 2 months ago. It’s touching to hear such an evocatively beautiful violin performance soundtrack clips of Mac Con Iomaire performing alongside a piano player, as well as shots of New York by day and by night. Watch the stirring live video below.

We got to know Mac Con Iomaire in Austin at SXSW 2015 this year. He played the full Irish breakfast on the Friday of this year’s festival, where Carrie interviewed him. He has three live dates in the UK and Ireland coming up:

Wednesday 11th November 2015 – London St. Pancras Old Church
Wednesday 9th December 2015 – Belfast Empire Music Hall
Thursday 17th December 2015 – Dublin Vicar Street (with special guest Lisa O’Neill)

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/142443347[/vimeo]

 

SXSW 2015: the full Irish breakfast at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub – 20th March 2015

 
By on Thursday, 9th April 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

The Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub on the Friday of SXSW 2015 drew a full crowd throughout the day, probably in part due to the rainy weather outside, but in greater part because of the talented and widely varied lineup of musicians on the docket. After a last minute interview with Frank Turner, and by the time I found Mary sat at a table enjoying her full Irish, the pub was already starting to fill in. Mary had to leave early for her other engagements while I stayed to navigate the fun, hectic madness that would ensue throughout the day.

Orla Gartland at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

First on the day’s lineup were two very different female singer/songwriters, Dublin’s Orla Gartland and Derry native SOAK. Gartland’s bright and catchy brand of pop was just the burst of energy we needed to get the grey and drizzly morning off to a good start, and her onstage charm matched her offstage persona when I interviewed her a bit later in the morning. SOAK, otherwise known as Bridie Monds-Watson, captured our attention with a very different mood. Her delicately poignant songs might not have translated as well to the pub atmosphere at B.D. Riley’s as well as they had to Latitude 30 earlier in the week, but her name was certainly on everyone’s lips after her set was finished.

SOAK at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

After taking advantage of a break in the rain to step outside for interviews with both Gartland and SOAK, I ducked back into B.D. Riley’s to catch the end of Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s solo violin set. I had heard him play the previous day on the Lost In Austin boat ride, and I was pleased to see that his music wasn’t completely overwhelmed by the somewhat more disorderly audience in the pub. I almost missed the following act, Dublin punk act Girl Band (pictured in the header above), while interviewing Mac Con Iomaire, but I saw enough of their set and the crowd’s enthusiastic response to get the feeling that these four guys are well and truly on their way up.

Colm Mac Con Iomaire at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

Next I had an encore performance from Walking On Cars, whom I’d seen at their sparsely attended Wednesday night set at the Music From Ireland showcase. While their performance that night hadn’t been lacking in any way, they were more energetic at B.D. Riley’s on Friday morning, feeding off of the more enthusiastic crowd. They elected not to perform their medley of pop hits here, wisely allowing their own energetic pop tracks to make an impression on our ears instead.

Walking on Cars at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

I was scheduled to interview self-described “cosmic reverb rock band” Buffalo Sunn ahead of their afternoon set, but they arrived to the venue later than they had planned due to the uncooperative weather outside. They did turn up in time to play, and their vibrant guitars and rich vocal harmonies were a perfect accompaniment for the mellowing ambience of the late afternoon. Luckily, the band were available to do the interview after their set; you can listen back to it here.

Buffalo Sunn at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

Unfortunately, rescheduling the Buffalo Sunn interview meant that I once again missed out on Dott, who played the Irish breakfast showcase at SXSW 2014 as well. Again, I heard just the end of their set, but it was enough to confirm that the band have refined both their sound and stage presence in the past year, as well as working up some new material for their upcoming studio album.

Dott at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

By this point in the afternoon, B.D. Riley’s was fairly packed in with people escaping the rain outside. Despite the tight fit throughout the venue, it was a favorable situation for experimental five-piece band Meltybrains?, who channeled the room’s restless energy into an ambitious and dynamic set including their by-now-famous face masks, which were floating around in the audience as well as on the stage. Their quirky stage antics and infectiously danceable rhythms made them instant crowd favourites, and their natural enthusiasm translated from the stage into my lively interview with them.

Meltybrains? at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

Hard rock duo All Tvvins followed Meltybrains? with an equally energetic set of their own, gearing up the crowd for the unabashed joviality of the final two acts, Fight Like Apes and Le Galaxie. Fight Like Apes lead singer MayKay was in particularly fine form and fine voice, engaging the audience both with her vocals and her seductive stagecraft. She was called back to the stage to join in on Le Galaxie’s recent single ‘Carmen’, adding even more fuel to their already pulse-racing electronic dance set and bringing the afternoon’s festivities to a sensational finale.

All Tvvins at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

Le Galaxie with MayKay at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

The annual full Irish breakfast event at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub has gained a not-to-be-missed reputation, which is well-deserved both for the high quality of the musicians on the showcase and its ever-present atmosphere of warm hospitality. This was my second time attending the event, and I must say that while this year’s showcase was a bit more eclectic than what Mary and I saw in 2014, Music From Ireland once again hosted a spectacular and memorable show. Cheers!

 

SXSW 2015 Interview: Colm Mac Con Iomaire

 
By on Wednesday, 8th April 2015 at 11:00 am
 

I spent much of the morning at Friday’s full Irish breakfast fretting in the back of my mind about the pronunciation of violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s name, even after hearing it enunciated aloud the previous day on the Lost In Austin boat ride by another Irish artist, The Lost Brothers‘ Oisin Leech. As it turned out, when I interviewed Mac Con Iomaire after his set at BD Riley’s, he put me at ease on the subject right away. In the interview streaming below, we discussed the difference in ambience between the Thursday and Friday venues before moving onto Mac Con Iomaire’s background experience as a solo artist as well as playing in Irish bands The Frames and The Swell Season.

Mac Con Iomaire was a last minute addition to the Irish SXSW 2015 contingent, making the trip in support of his new solo album ‘And Now the Weather’. The album, which is due for release on the 17th of April, includes a masterfully effective piece called ‘The Finnish Line’ composed in Helsinki at the end of a particularly long and disorienting tour cycle. In the interview, I refer to the music on the album as “songs”, but as the tracks are instrumental, it might be more appropriate to call them “pieces” of music as opposed to true songs with verbal lyrics. However, the fundamental lyricism of Mac Con Iomaire’s violin style, influenced by modern classical composers and traditional Irish music alike, is at the forefront of the compositions he played for us here.

Having played four solo gigs in 4 days over the course of his time in Austin, Mac Con Iomaire recounted a relatively relaxing experience in Austin compared to many of the other artists I talked with during the week. However, he was looking forward to heading home to begin the more complicated job of rehearsing with a 10-piece band for his upcoming live shows in Ireland.

Thanks to Aoife for her help in coordinating this interview.

 

SXSW 2015: Lost in Austin Boat Ride – 19th March 2015

 
By on Friday, 3rd April 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

On the Tuesday morning of SXSW 2015, Mary and I attended a lovely St. Patrick’s Day brunch on a boat, hosted by Generator NI and Invest Northern Ireland. The following Thursday morning, I made my way once again to the Hyatt Regency Austin boat dock to attend another riverboat brunch showcase, this one curated by none other than Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland, also known as TGTF favourites The Lost Brothers. The lineup for the Thursday morning show, hosted by Honeycomb Creative Works and Generator NI, included several of the artists we’d seen on Tuesday morning but also had a few surprise twists to match the curves and turns along our meandering path down the Colorado River.

After a brief introduction by Honeycomb Creative Works’ Fiona McElroy, The Lost Brothers played the morning’s opening set, including their own folk duets and some particularly well-considered covers, chosen to feature the guest musicians appearing on the brunch showcase. The first addition to the program was Irish violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire, who added his lovely and expressive instrumental timbre to The Lost Brothers’ warm acoustic sound.

Lost Brothers and Colm Mac Con Iomaire 19 March 2015

Leech then introduced another special guest, whose presence was designed to energise the easygoing brunch crowd gathered on the riverboat. Austin-based songwriter and producer Will Sexton, with whom Leech and McCausland had become acquainted on a previous trip to SXSW, joined the group for a delightfully improvisatory set of songs with a very definite blues vibe, including a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Ain’t Leavin’ Your Love’.

Lost Brothers and Will Sexton 19 March 2015

Will Sexton at Lost in Austin 19 March 2015

The mood on the boat then changed once again with a solo performance from Colm Mac Con Iomaire, who treated us to some of the exquisite violin melodies from his new album ‘And Now the Weather’, due out on the 17th of April. Mac Con Iomaire displayed his range and versatility in two contrasting pieces, the broad and soaring ‘Eimar’s Dream’ from his first album ‘The Hare’s Corner’ and the poignantly sad ‘Sappho’s Daughter’, inspired by Irish poet Theo Dorgan. I was able to catch Mac Con Iomaire for a quick chat on Friday during the Full Irish Breakfast at BD Riley’s; the audio for that interview will be posted here on TGTF in the coming days.

Colm Mac Con Iomaire at Lost in Austin 19 March 2015

We took a collective intermission after Mac Con Iomaire’s set, and I headed to the boat’s upper deck to take in the scenery. When I came back down, I found the audience already regrouped for Northern Irish pop quartet GO WOLF and alt-rockers-turned-acoustic-crooners More Than Conquerors. I caught their performances from a slightly different angle than I had on Tuesday morning, while the casual Thursday brunch crowd in the main cabin enjoyed hearing the bands in this unusually quaint setting.

GO WOLF at Lost in Austin 19 March 2015

More Than Conquerors at Lost in Austin 19 March 2015

As the riverboat headed back to the Hyatt Regency dock, The Lost Brothers took the stage area once more, this time accompanied by a new acquaintance, Austin’s own Will Webster, better known locally as Ragtime Willie. Webster had the opportunity to regale us with his skills on both banjo and fiddle during this final spontaneous set of tunes with Leech, McCausland and Mac Con Iomaire.

Ragtime Willie at Lost in Austin 19 March 2015

Ever the gracious hosts, The Lost Brothers finished out the morning by accepting a request for an encore performance of their charming version of ‘Moon River’. Those of you reading along in the UK might have a chance to hear this lovely cover yourselves, as The Lost Brothers are set to begin a run of April tour dates supporting fellow TGTF friends Stornoway on select dates.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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