It wasn't just his songs that excited the crowd Sunday night at the Byham. Glen Hansard, of the Swell Season, framed them with the kind of wit and banter that can only come from years of struggle playing in clubs and on the streets.
Like Richard Thompson, Hansard could almost carry a show with spoken-word and a few acoustic tunes sprinkled here and there. Almost every song came with a lengthy introduction, sometimes about overcoming obstacles in his life, sometimes about politics.
The Irishman broached the latter subject cautiously, saying the minute you start talking about politics in this country, things get weird. "No one wants anyone to know what they're thinking - in the land of free speech!" He went on to say that the important thing was that people just get out and vote, before slyly adding, "cause that's what's going to get Obama in."
At this, the crowd erupted and there was no smattering of boo's, as when Springsteen makes an anti-Bush comment.
Hansard then joked, "Think about a rock band that votes for McCain... Well, maybe that band that wrote ‘I wanna be rock star,' " referring to Nickelback.
Earlier, Hansard was talking about writing all these bummed-out songs and cracked people up with his take on the emotional state of rock stars.
"The most relaxed people I've ever met are punk rockers, 'cause they get it all out. They come off the stage and they're eating hummus and wearing sandals. The most uptight people are the folk singers. They come off screaming ‘Where's my [bleeping coffee??!!' "