In the summer of 2006 I was in my friend’s car. It was the kind of warm that in retrospect you can never recall surviving through. He put on an album that he told me I was wrong. It opened a door that it was impossible to close. That album was I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning by Bright Eyes.
During Bright Eyes set at Glastonbury in 2011 I cried when they performed Poison Oak. I have no idea why but the moment and the rain and Conor Oberst’s beautiful Elvish cloak took me and ravished tears upon my cheeks.
Last week I managed to secure tickets to see Conor solo at KOKO in Mornington Crescent. Of course when you see Conor play solo there is a band onstage. That band was Dawes who had the pleasure of not only being Conor’s backing band but also being his support act. It’s fair to say that they won the audience over, particularly when we were advised they weren’t just a hack support act and as such had been handpicked by wimp rocker’s Jesus, Conor, himself.
I stood just five heads from the stage in the smaller-than-I-could-remember venue with my friend Sam who has covered more Bright Eyes covers than I could ever remember and awaited the arrival of the man we put on a pedestal. Fortunately he wasn’t knocked off of it when he took to the stage in a wide brimmed black hat and matching suit jacket and jeans.
Thrown into the mix of songs were Bright Eyes classics including Lover I Don’t Have To Love, We Are Nowhere and It’s Now and Hit The Switch as well as a number of songs from his newest solo album Upside Down Mountain. With each slither of downtime between songs it was impossible to tell where the set was headed and what we would get to experience. When introducing Governer’s Ball, Conor asked if we minded if he played something from the new album. From deep in the throngs came a voice.
“I love that album. It touched me.”
Without missing a beat, Conor simply said “no comment” which was met with giggles from the crowd.
The back line left for Lua before returning together for an encore of No One Would Riot For Less, Cape Canaveral and Another’ Travelin’ Song. It was an incredible set to witness and one that left me wanting answers to questions that had yet to form. He is a hero to me and a huge influence and I hope I never meet him.
Conor and his band played:
Zigzagging Toward the Light
We Are Nowhere and It’s Now
Hit the Switch
If The Brakeman Turns My Way
Lover I Don’t Have to Love
Desert Island Questionnaire
Old Soul Song (For the New World Order)
I Got the Reason #2
No One Would Riot for Less
Another Travelin’ Song