“Bright eyes tonight at RAH was the best thing thats ever happened in the world. ever.” ~ Sally
“Bright eyes was amazing. life complete.” ~ Sophie
“Bright Eyes was amazing. Feeling blissfully happy.” ~ Sarah
This, the general sentiment that lead to Bright Eyes trending on twitter. The feeling of the gig was monumental. A beautiful setting full of either fans of Conor Oberst‘s work or the very soon to be. The moment was lost on no one and the band responded by putting on an irresistable show awash with intricacies and intelligent nuances that made this one of the nights of the Nebraskan prodigy’s remarkable journey.
Denny Brewer‘s familiar speech played out over the speakers with the anticipation unbearable. The transition from the recording to the live performance of Firewall was immaculate but rather than being the prelude to a People’s Key showcase, as brilliant as it would be, it was only followed by Hailie Selassie before launching into a relentless march through his better known back catalogue Lifted…, Digital Ash, Wide Awake... and Cassadega as well as the unique Cartoon Blues from the Four Winds EP and an intense rendition of “The Calender Hung Itself” from Fevers and Mirrors.
While in recent shows there had been appearences from “Falling out of love at this altitude” and “Something Vague” the lo-fi form of the former may not have been entirely in keeping with the surroundings and as for something vague the slow emotion was reserved for initial set closer, Ladder song. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
The energy and tempo that was commanded throughout the set was incredible. Following up those two PK tracks with Digital Ash’s Take it easy (Love Nothing) and Cassedega’s flagship single Four Winds…
It was pretty clear Conor was up for tonight, all the posturing of any of the mainstream artists that have graced this venue, improvisation and showmanship bordering on iconic. Everyone comes to see his projects to hear his words and it seems like he’s come to terms with this, even comfortable with it.
The range that he has shown over his career with Bright Eyes is astounding and is displayed to stunning effect. Perfect examples of this being; playing New York protest folk gem Old Soul Song before the 80′s synth inspired Shell Games and recent single Jejune Stars before going into stripped bare acoustic no one would riot for less.
Live, The Calendar hung Itself is furious and tempestuous, the audience only divided by those screaming every word back at the band and those who feel every word coursing through their newly opened wounds. Following this was letter to a friend recently lost to suicide- Ladder Song. Just Conor and a piano, it was raw and emotional. He pointed to the audience on resonant line “you’re not alone in anything // you’re not alone in trying to be”. I think if he’d stood up and declared himself our God at this point, no one would have argued…
Land Locked Blues is a fascinating example of Conor’s prescient songwriting. Written a long time before its release on I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning but not changing a bit. Tonight he changes “you’d think that after 22 years i’d be used to the spin” to “after getting so old…”, he gets more and more relateable the longer we with live with his music. Many have said this was the highlight of the night. I couldn’t say as it’s impossible to pick one moment out from all of this but it’s always going to be a special one.
It was at this point Conor took it upon himself to introduce the band. It’s hard to comprehend just what went down for that period of five minutes, I wouldn’t say it was uncharacteristic but certainly unexpected. It was poignant in a way, like he didn’t know how to express quite what being able to be on stage with his friends in such an environment so he went about it uh- this way…
I kinda loved it to be honest (:
The crescendoing Road to Joy followed before closing with One for you, one for me. He went and touched hands with everyone in the front row and stood with the seats on either side of the stage. It’s usually kinda lame when people try to touch
As it wound down with Brewer’s closing speech, the word ‘Mercy’ looped as people drifted out.
“This sounds weird but it kind of didn’t feel real, more like a daydream?… Perfect show” ~ Katherine
“Who else feels different after Bright Eyes last night?” ~ Ellie
I think we all do.
Huge thanks to Sarah for the tickets and Malin for the videos.
I also have full audio of this gig but needs editing, if anyone wants it i’ll get on that (: