The Swell Season at the Ryman. May 19, 2010
TEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LAST NIGHT’S SWELL SEASON SHOW AT THE RYMAN
- I should probably say my job, or our friends, or Aaron’s business… but the real reason I could never move away from Nashville is that I would no longer be able to go to a show at the Ryman anytime I want. I LOVE THE RYMAN. I love climbing the freakishly steep stairs to the balcony, I love the stained glass, I love the displays of country music memorabilia everywhere. I don’t think I could go back to seeing shows in regular old places.
- We didn’t know anything about the opener, Justin Townes Earle, so we didn’t make much of an effort to get there in time to see him. We walked in halfway through his set and I was instantly upset about that decision. Justin Townes Earle is VERY COOL. He has this kind of old-time-rock-and-roll Buddy Holly rockabilly thing going on. I loved it.
- I did not, however, totally love his bass player. I mean, I did love her, because she was a she and she totally rocked the stand-up bass. Which is awesome. But I think she may have also been violating it a little bit. She was very enthusiastic, is what I’m saying. And it was kind of awkward from our point of view on the side balcony.
- But! Our seats! They were fabulous! I am pretty sold on the idea that far stage left balcony is the best place to sit at the Ryman. You are in the balcony, so you can see everything and the sound is great and you don’t have some giant hipstery fedora head blocking your view. And on the side, you’re super close to the stage. AND we were on the second row. It ruled.
- Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova came out and were completely charming, as per usual. They opened with “If You Want Me” from the Once soundtrack, Marketa in the lead, but from then on it was pretty much the Glen show. Not that I’m complaining. We heard a couple of repeat stories from the Kentucky show a couple of years ago, he was hilarious and adorable, she was sweet and gorgeous, it was all awesome.
- Then he compared himself to Ray Boltz. Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of actually telling you the story, I will tell you this: it included the line “Jesus doesn’t hate me anymore” and was used to introduce a song called “Backbroke”. You can’t make this stuff up, people.
- About halfway through the show I had to go to the bathroom. I hate leaving during shows – there is always the fear they will play that ONE SONG that you will just DIE if you miss it – but it could not be helped. They started a song I didn’t know and I made a run for it. (Not literally. At least, not yet.) While in the restroom (that has awesome tiled flowers on the floor, by the way), I heard it. IT. Into the Mystic. They were doing their cover of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and I WAS IN THE BATHROOM. Are you kidding me. I hightailed it out of there (that’s where the running came in) and made it back into the room for the first chorus. Augh.
- They spent a lot of time talking about Ireland and the music they grew up with. At one point the whole band left the stage except for the violin player, who pulled a bit of an Andrew Bird and built a song with pedals and loops and magic and rainbows and then proceeded to play one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. I wish I had written down the name. It hurt me, it was so good.
- Can we talk about encores for a minute? I have discussed in the past how much I dislike the way they are handled. I will spare you that rant. (Spoiler alert – I have a new rant.) Here’s the question: how long is an encore? Where should it fall in the show? Because last night, and at several shows we’ve seen lately, it’s been pretty much right in the middle. As in, the encore is as long as the set. What is that? After the fakeout, Glen came out alone and played “Say It To Me Now” acoustic and unplugged on the side of the stage. It was incredible. He then transitioned into a cover of Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway”. Killer. Beautiful. Amazing. The perfect end to a show in Nashville. And then the band came back and they played a whole nother set. I do not understand.
- I love this band. Love love love them. They’d kind of fallen off my radaar, but I am so glad we went to this show. It was wonderful and sweet and charming and awesome. Good night and joy be with you all.