Was up in the Maiden City a couple of nights ago to catch The Swell Season/The Frames at the Millennium Forum, as they head off to tour promoting their sophomore effort (as the Swellies entity, not counting the Once soundtrack.)
Been fortunate now to see the guys in their many guises four or five times now, which puts them into a box with a few other lovely bands; like a my favourite pair of trousers, they're exceptionally comfortable and familiar, but every time I put them on I stick my hand in my back pocket and pull out a mixture of magical old bits and bobs, and something strange and exciting that I didn't know was even there! (I know what you're thinking - where does he get these magical trousers? These days, it's M&S - but that's another rant for another time.)
The real treat of the evening though was one I'd been looking forward to immensely; finally getting to see Lisa Hannigan, who was providing the support for the evening off the back of an incredibly successful push across the US with her debut record, Sea Sew. Hannigan has had a bit of a funny few years; after being fired backstage in Germany by Damien Rice, she went off, found herself, regrouped and turned out what is my record of the year so far. (The Mercury Music Prize nom goes some way to vindicate me in this one!) Coming across as somewhere between pretty awkward and ridiculously 'arty' (you know what I mean), she seemed immediately likable as an artist - and that's exactly as she came across on stage. (I've referred before to her apparent brilliance on this very blog, in fact.)
After the Swellies had taken the roof off the place (including finally playing Heyday in my presence - been quite literally waiting years for that one, we hung around for a while as Lisa & co. came out to do a signing. Having acquired a digital copy (cough) of the record a while back for sampling's sake, I felt I owed it to them to buy it, so decided to stick around and get it inked.
Maybe I'm ridiculously polite, or just lazy, but I found myself drifting around the periphery of the scrum and realised I was standing among Hannigan's band, who were off to one side, looking amused and having a sneaky drink from the bar. Ended up being literally the last person there after getting stuck into talking about glockenspiels and touring with the great Donagh Molloy, multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire. Came to the conclusion that the band are just annoying: I was under the impression that the unwritten rule of celebrity was that they're supposed to come off as friendly in public, but be twisted and insecure in private. Lisa & Co. bucked this trend; they were all fantastic. Lisa was really warm, and the guys were all a bit of a laugh to boot. After only mocking me mildly for being last, and apologising to the better half (who had spent this whole time tapping her foot and fixating on the huge drive we had yet to do), we did the photos thing, talked a bit more, and then cleared off just as an irritated looking member of staff was walking across the foyer with a big bunch of keys. A very pleasant experience was had (and more importantly, no repeat of the infamous Crowder incident! (see 'The (in)glory of it all', June 6th)
They'll go far, those lads (and lass.) Highly recommend scooting over to YouTube for some videos and to Lisa's own site for lots of random niceness - including some interesting sounding cake recipes!