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Swell Season

"Hansard has Bono-sized talent and charisma but with a straight-from-the-heart intimacy and playful sense of humor you don't get from his compatriot in U2.

The set was a dynamic mix of musicians coming and going, starting with Hansard and Irglova setting the tone with a sublime duet of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" and then going right into Oscar winner "Falling Slowly," their harmonies as delicate and beautiful and as a male and female voice can be. He has the warmth and rasp of Cat Stevens, while she's like a shyer, gentler Sinead O'Connor.

With The Frames on stage for songs like "The Moon" and "When Your Mind's Made Up," the sound took on the epic quality of Radiohead.

Hansard was just as powerful stripped down to his acoustic guitar with the hole in it. For "Say It to Me Now," he stepped to the tip of the stage and belted out the emotionally charged song as he'd do it on the street, with no amplification. Before doing "Back Broke" and "Leave," the talkative Hansard joked of the songs being about "feeling like you're in a place where you can't get any worse -- which is kind of what we do." He balanced those angry breakup songs with "Happiness" -- more of a resigned breakup song, offering his lover his blessing."

Review by Scott Mervis

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