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Swell Season deliver powerful, dynamic set

A review of Hansard and Irglova at the PAC

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The Swell Season
North Charleston Performing Arts Center
May 22

Seeing favorite bands live in concert is always a fun experience, but the Swell Season's Saturday night show at the PAC went beyond that. Many in the audience, myself included, love the music of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, but we also love the couple themselves — or at least the characters they played in the Oscar-winning movie Once.

Although the film was fictional, the chemistry between the musicians was real, even resulting in a short-lived relationship between the two. Neither of them were professional actors, meaning that, as we learned Saturday, Hansard and Irglova aren't too far removed from their beloved characters.

Irglova, sporting a cute short haircut, was quiet, composed, and a little nervous, with a beautiful, lilting voice and serious piano skills. Balancing out (and nearly overtaking) her sweetness was Hansard's energetic, loud singing and strumming (and occasional piano-playing, as well). Fans of the movie recognized his well-worn guitar, which he's been playing for more than 20 years. They switched off vocal and playing duties throughout the show, hitting on favorite songs from the movie, like "If You Want Me" and "When Your Mind's Made Up," plus songs from their new album Strict Joy, like "Low Rising," "Fantasy Man," and "Back Broke."

By far, the most powerful moments of the night came from Hansard's solo, passionate performances of popular songs like "Leave" and "Say It to Me Now." While Charleston's too-friendly peanut gallery worked hard to embarrass the rest of us, they did manage to get one good nugget out of Hansard. When asked if they'd be making a sequel to Once, he replied, "We're living it." And we were honored to be a part of it.

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