Oct 5, 2008

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band @ Enmore Theatre

Conor Oberst is something special. A performer of passion and a songwriter of substance. His show Saturday night at the Enmore Theatre was one of diversity and enjoyment. For me though, the night was very enjoyable, but not a night to be described as unforgettable. Perhaps this was because the material on offer varied in quality through out the night. As we know Mr Oberst is/was Bright Eyes, whose catalogue is brimmed to the top with quality songs. 2008 saw Conor come full circle, record under his given name and adopt a new band. The Mystic Valley Band. The new album, released in August, to my ears is a qualified success. A few great songs, a couple of good ones and a couple of bland tunes. So, an Oberst show would lean heavily on this album and I respect that decision. You know, move on. Onward and upward.

So, how did it turn out? Well, for me the same way as the album. Songs that worked were great. Songs that didn't, less so. However Oberst's infectious spirit and flat out passion managed to pull it together to create a night of fun and joy and value for money. What worked for me? Probably the slower acosutic numbers. The closer "Milk Thistle" was starkly beautiful, as was the encore opener "Lenders in the Temple". I also loved "Cape Canaveral" and the stunning ender (with Conor on piano) "Breezy". Having said that, the upbeat "Moab" and "Souled Out!!!" were great fun too, rocking and rolling the not sold out (why?) venue. Some songs that dragged are probably the ones that haven't struck a chord with me yet. Such as the underwhelming "Danny Callahan". The set was also littered with new songs, some covers and also songs that the band members count as their own. Again, some worked and some didn't. I really enjoyed "Ten Women" and also "I Got A Reason #2", which was epic and great all at once. For some reason the two covers in the encore didn't grab me. The Dylan cover (Corrina, Corrina) seemed a bit flat to me and the Paul Simon song (Kodachrome) was pretty uninteresting to me. I thought the band was great, tight and professional, although I thought they were a bit let down by the sound. There seemed to be a fair bit of feedback and in some songs Conor's vocals were buried in the mix and hard to pick up. Overall, I did enjoy the night. Conor was in great form, happy and totally appreciative. He again proved that he is a songwriter of great talent and substance. It will be interesting to see in which direction his career takes him.

Set List
Danny Callahan
Central City
Gentleman's Pact
Cape Canaveral
I Got A Reason #1
Ten Women
I Got A Reason #2
NYC-Gone, Gone
Souled Out!!!
Milk Thistle

Lenders in the Temple
Corrina, Corrina
I Don't Want To Die (in a hospital)


  • At October 07, 2008 , Blogger So Called Friend said...

    I agree with a lot of your review. Anyone who was there would be lying if they weren't secretly hoping for him to play Bright Eyes material though.


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