Henry Fonda Theater, Sept. 6
By Mark Mauer
Two crowds showed up to see Dublin's The Frames Thursday night. First there were the die-hards, lining up hours before the doors opened. They're the ones who have followed this band to bigger and bigger venues each time they've come to L.A., from Spaceland to the Troubadour to the El Rey to here. They know all the words, all the stories that get spun on stage preceding live favorites like “Lay Me Down,” and “What Happens When the Heart Just Stops.”
Then there are the ones who've seen the movie. Once, released in the spring, stars Frames' lead singer Glen Hansard as an Irish busker with no band, no money, and barely one beat up guitar. He meets an equally poor girl, and they write songs and sing them to one another. The movie is as sweet and lovely as anything you'll see, and several months later it keeps playing in theaters and selling records. Meanwhile Hansard – both with and without the Frames – keeps coming back here, growing the L.A. crowd each time.
Photos by Timothy Norris
So this new audience for the Frames may be a little older and quite a bit better dressed, but they also seemed a bit taken aback by the loud anthems knocked out one after another by the five-piece band. Songs like “Revelate,” “God Bless Mom,” and “Fake” are big, loud, shoulda-been hits (In Ireland they are hits), and if some people were expecting a night of easy, acoustic strumming tunes like they saw in Once, they didn't seem disappointed.
Recent albums by The Frames like Burn the Maps and The Cost have gotten softer, with long, slow-burn tunes that take a few minutes to deliver their full punch. It can be tough to bring the audience along on those slow, dark rides. So tonight, they stuck to the more immediate “big” songs, still laying little notes of Van Morrison, Willy Wonka and even Rainbow's “Since You've Been Gone” into the middle of their own stuff.
The “hit” from Once, “Falling Slowly” did get played of course. Hansard said he'd met someone earlier in the day who wanted to sing the song with him, and sure enough she was in the crowd. She sang Marketa Irglova's part beautifully, but here was a song the entire audience knew, so rather than just a duet, you had a couple of thousand people singing the chorus, “Take this sinking boat and point it home, we've still got time,” over and over.
Violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire came out for the encore on his own and played a beautiful looped instrumental called “The Blue Shoes” in remembrance of Pavarotti. “People Get Ready,” a song from the band's most recent album The Cost can make your eyes water if you're not careful. It's hopeful and optimistic and keeps building in intensity until you just can't help but join the choir singing around you. On a whim, they did one more, The Pixies' “Where Is My Mind?” a song much closer to the Frames' live aesthetic than the folky stuff which so many might have come out to see. But if two crowds came in to see them, only one left; more new converts for the next L.A. show, which happens in November by the way.
Photos by Timothy Norris