Seeing Glen Hansard and the frames seems to be an annual pre-Christmas tradition for me at this stage. It was great to see them in Belfast this year, as its one of my favourite places. I’d never been to the refurbished Ulster Hall before, they’ve really turned it into a great venue!
The support Act, Seti the First weren’t the most exciting band I’ve ever seen, but I did like their cello playing!
When you hear Glen Hansard, and if you didn’t know any better, you’d imagine it to be a solo gig, but in fact there were, I think eleven people on stage, six more than the usual Frames band. This made it sound fantastic, very different to anything I’ve heard before, largely due to the addition of a trumpet in a lot of the songs. Naturally Glen played a lot of songs from his solo album ‘rhythm and repose’, which I’ve enjoyed listening to much more since hearing these songs live.
The band played:
You Will Become
Talking With The Wolves
Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting – Respect (Aretha Franklin)
Low Rising – Here Comes the Night (Van Morrison)
When Your Mind’s Made Up – with the audience singing along
Bird of Sorrow
Lay Me Down
Astral Weeks** (Van Morrison) – Smile** (Pearl Jam)
Where Is My Mind (Pixies)
Song of Good Hope – to the most silent, respectful audience I’ve ever heard in Belfast
Hey Day (Mic Christopher) – Glen quietly sang the chorus unaccompanied. The audience joined in and I think he intended playing the whole song later, but it never happened!
Don’t Do It (Marvin Gaye/The Band)
Falling Slowly – He broke a string during this, but not even during Astral Weeks! 😀
Passing Through (Leonard Cohen)
This was the perfect end to a great, almost two and a half hour set. Glen and the band walked around the venue, with the audience singing along. I think it could have turned into a very long night if the venues 11 PM curfew wasn’t so strict.
I love introducing new people to The Frames live shows, so it was great that they managed to impress my boyfriend! We spent the evening with a few friends I hadn’t seen in a while. When we went to the pub for a drink with them, ‘star star’ came on, and a big cheer indecated that we weren’t the only people in the pub who had been to the gig!
Another reason why the night was so enjoyable was how well our guide dogs were looked after. When I contacted the Ulster Hall to enquire about having the dogs watched during the gig because it would be too loud for them, they weren’t too keen at first. Nicky suggested I email them to outline in writing exactly what I wanted and how little work it would be. The staff, Zoe in particular couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly to us and the dogs.
We stayed in Benedicts hotel because I knew they’d be good with the dogs too, and its usually the best value hotel in Belfast. They gave us the wheelchair accessible room, which had lots of space. It also had two dog bowls and beds for the dogs on the floor, so we were very impressed! Every member of staff we met (and there were a lot of them) was so helpful and polite.
Other venues and services could learn a lot from the management of Benedicts hotel and the Ulster Hall. I hope they all have a lovely Christmas, because the staff members we met all did their businesses proud last weekend.