The following was originally published on Exclaim.ca.
The Swell Season / Peter Katz
Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto ON July 12
By Jessica Lewis
The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard can’t get away from Bono, as North Americans apparently can’t help but think of him when recalling famous people from Ireland. When an audience member yelled about the U2 singer, Hansard launched into a conversation with her, but was confused.
“No, I’m not Bono,” he quipped. “What’s your point?” Quiet bandmate Markéta Irglová responded from behind her piano, “It was a compliment.” After many laughs, Hansard said, “I hope he’s doing okay, he hurt his back, right? Let’s put this out to Bono,” dedicating “In These Arms” and segueing into a hilarious stanza of “With or Without You.” Bono jokes kept up heartily for the rest of the evening.
Hansard not only proved to be a good sport, but he also showed how well he and his band could entertain a massive crowd with music and comedic storytelling. Irglová even earned her chops, telling a story about being told that Toronto tests for E. coli in the lake every week. It was perhaps the most any audience had heard her talk.
Opener Peter Katz took to the stage with radiating confidence, not an easy feat for a singer-songwriter just before an internationally acclaimed act. Out supporting his new record First of the Last to Know, Katz unfortunately didn’t rope in Hansard to join him for the album’s title track, but the Toronto songwriter did team up with the Swell Season during their encore.
Speaking of encores, it was a lengthy seven songs. And those seven included Hansard and Irglová solos, a stunning rock break of the Frames’ “Revelate,” “Gold” from Once, and covers of Neil Young‘s “Out on the Weekend” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Drive All Night.”
The Swell Season consistently put on an amazing performance. This one was almost a year since their album Strict Joy was released, but the wide range of material and quality of song execution — not to mention the cute audience interaction — made for an unforgettable show.