Glen Hansard - Live at Sydney Opera House

Glen Hansard Live
— Photograph by David Vagg


December 18th2020 will see the release ofGlen Hansard: Live at the Sydney Opera  House. Following 2019’sThis Wild Willing,the double LP marks Hansard’s first live  record as a solo artist, capturing not only the rush and rapture of his much-lauded performances, but also the sense of intimacy and connection those performances engender. In the wake of a tumultuous year, the profits from sales of this album have  been earmarked to support ICHH (Inner City Helping Homeless), an Irish organization  offering aid in Dublin.  

“This year has been a strange one, long yet short. Like drifting in space at times, looking  back on a planet in peril,” says Hansard. “It’s hard to raise the fighting spirit, but we  need each other, someone to try for, something to rise for.” Though recorded in 2016, Live at the Sydney Opera Houseseems somehow poised to give comfort in the present  moment. Album opener “Winning Streak” bestows good wishes as if they were  protective charms through “summers long and winters cold,” while “Bird of Sorrow” and  “My Little Ruin” find Hansard in the trenches, his voice rising to a crescendo as he  promises: “I’m not leaving you here.”

There are lighter moments too: the tender lilt of “McCormack’s Wall,” the gentle  “Falling Slowly,” for which Hansard won an Academy Award with Markéta Irglová in  2008, and the honey-drenched promise of “Her Mercy,” a song written while traveling in  Australia on a previous tour. And there is community. Though a solo record, Hansard does not stand alone. His long-time touring band – Robert Bochnik, Michael Buckley, KT  O’Connor, Ronan Dooney, Joseph Doyle, Curtis Fowlkes, Graham Hopkins, Paula Hughes,  Una O’Kane, and Romy – are a force of their own, while special guest Peadar Ó Riada is  called upon to give a moving performance of “Aisling Gheal.” Finally, there is the  audience itself, so crucial to any concert experience. “Take a deep breath,” Hansard  coaxes during an incandescent cover of Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks,” asking those  attending to step outside of themselves, to raise their voices and meet him in a single  long-held note of wild abandon. “Take a deep breath, and we’ll throw it out as far as it  goes – what d’you think?” After a year of collective breath-holding, the answering roar is  for the listener a moment of profound release.   

“I know a recording of a concert is a pale substitute for the real thing,” says Hansard.  “But we’re all living on morsels right now.” In these captured moments of connection  and transcendence,Live at the Sydney Opera Houseallows for both the consolation of  memory and the promise of a longed-for future – the promise of a coming, much  anticipated feast.  

Glen Hansard: Live at the Sydney Opera House is now available globally to pre-order on clear vinyl and on limited edition silver vinyl from The digital album is now available but due to ongoing delays in the supply chain, we now aim to ship the vinyl format in early February. All profits to ICHH – Inner  City Helping Homeless in Dublin.