Ireland’s best swept through Vancouver in early March as The Frames delivered an early St. Patrick’s Day present at Richard’s on Richards. It was too bad some of the people at the venue couldn’t return the favour. For most of the night, too many people chatted loudly through the Frames’ set. The situation was compounded when the band started with a couple of quieter songs from the new album, Burn The Maps, including “A Caution to the Birds.”
But by about the third song, the band was able to truly showcase the energy they are known for to the half of the crowd that was there to see them. As photographer Neil Braun said to me, “there is something about this band that sucks you into their show.” They were able to mix in older favourites like “Lay Me Down” and “What Happens When The Heart Just Stops” with more up-tempo songs from the new album, like “Finally” and “Happy.” However, even during the introduction to “Happy,” lead singer Glen Hansard wanted to tell a story but was so annoyed with the small group of chatters; he just mumbled the title of the song.
There was a point in the set where I thought Hansard, Joe Doyle (bass/vocals), Rob Bochnik (guitar) and Simon Goode (guitar, filling in for violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire) could have easily walked off the stage because of the chatter, but sometime in the middle of the night, during a period of silence between songs, fans started yelling requests from the Frames’ large back catalogue (from “Red Chord” to “New Partner”), just like they had done all night. Hansard looked at the fans and said, “I’ll tell you, when we came out here at the start, we weren’t feeling it. But now we are.”
A great night turned into something even better at that point. The band put even more energy into entertaining the many dedicated fans at the concert playing high energy tunes like “Fake.” They finished off their set and the crowd cheered for more. They came out for the encore and obliged the crowd with old favourites Frames’ fans had been dying to hear: “Revelate” and “Red Chord” with a little bit of Van Morrison’s “Here Comes The Night.” They threw in a cover of Mic Christopher’s “Hey Day” as well.
The Frames’ showed their mastery of showmanship by ending their encore with a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Devil Town.” The show ended with the crowd snapping their fingers and singing about living as a vampire. That song left the crowd quiet and contented enough not to scream for another encore, which the band would have gladly played.
With Mac Con Iomaire’s violin missing from the line-up, I was afraid there would be something missing from the Frames’ concert, but those fears were allayed about a minute into the first song and the Frames gave what one Irishman in the crowd said was one of the best concerts he had ever seen. I agree with him wholeheartedly.