May 9, 2009

Okkervil River @ Annandale Hotel

Where do you start? Where do you start? How about this. If I hold up my hand and count my fingers, then one of them will show that Okkervil River are clearly one of the world's great bands. Great. Superb. Astounding. Living and breathing greatness. Friday night at the Annandale Hotel was proof yet again of this band's majesty. My fifth time seeing them felt just as fresh as the first time. Invigorating and life affirming. Will Sheff, I salute you.

If I state that the first part of the show was wonderful and fun, then I also state that the second half was damn near perfect. "Black" was fun and "A Girl In Port" was tender and lovely, but it was "A Stone" that sent the night into orbit. The band left the stage and Will (the wonderful) was left to give a stunning and exquisite rendering of this magnificent song. You could hear a pin drop as Will reached deep down in his soul. Breathtaking. Then we rocked to the rollicking "John Allyn Smith Sails", before the band knocked us on our backs with "Black Sheep Boy" and "For Real". The latter was ferocious and blood splattered. The crowd then really got involved, clapping with joy to the rampaging "Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe". At this point the band's new guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo accidentally played the opening chord of "Unless It's Kicks", before realising her mistake. I think it was meant to be "Plus Ones", but her banjo would not amp properly and Will decided to plough into "Lost Coastlines". No complaints here. It was great fun and was swiftly followed by "Unless It's Kicks". Holy cow! This song is just born to be heard live. I will never tire of this amazing song. The crowd was well and truly satisfied at this point. But it got better.

Okkervil River returned for the encore and played a 13th Floor Elevators cover, before a tender version of the heart breaking "Blue Tulip". Then it happened. Expecting and hoping for customary closer "Westfall", Will announced they would play a song from "Black Sheep Boy Appendix". My heart stopped. Could it be? Yes it was! "Another Radio Song". My surprise turned to complete and utter joy. This song is a juggernaut of heart and emotion. After I picked my jaw off the floor, the houselights signalled the end to a magical night. I just love this band. To death. They are loose and tight at the same time. Superb musicians who love playing live, they also don't worry if they play a wrong chord here or there or play a wrong note. New member Gurgiolo fits in perfectly, whilst Travis Nelsen is joy attached to a drumstick. Then there is Mr Sheff. The man is ragged and glorious. A voice that connects like few others, he pierces our hearts with his words and music, creating something that stays with you forever. In the year 2009 this night is going to be awfully hard to beat.

Set List
A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene
Singer Songwriter
The Latest Toughs
A Girl In Port
Calling And Not Calling My Ex
Pop Lie
A Stone
John Allyn Smith Sails
Black Sheep Boy
For Real
Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
Lost Coastlines
Unless It's Kicks

You're Gonna Miss Me (13th Floor Elevators Cover)
Blue Tulip
Another Radio Song


  • At May 10, 2009 , Anonymous troublegerl said...

    Once again another awesome show from Will & Co. I really liked the addition of Lauren to the band - she still looks a little uncomfortable but i thought she played brilliantly.

    And I too was soooo stoked that they closed with Another Radio Song. I love the longer epic songs off BSB+Appendix and wish they got more of an airing these days.

    Also once again, wonderful photos of the show sir!

  • At May 10, 2009 , Anonymous claire said...

    Great review as always, would be so easy to run out of superlatives for how awesome these guys are.

    If you want to relive Another Radio Song, I took video:

  • At May 10, 2009 , Anonymous Tim said...

    Yep, was an awesome show. I went both nights and I thought Friday was pretty comfortably the better show. Much better energy and the band seemed to be having a whole lot more fun. I was a little disappointed that they didn't play Westfall despite it being on the setlist! It was absolutely mind-blowing on Thursday night.

  • At May 10, 2009 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm so jelous!
    I love these guys but I'm underage which means I'll have to sit at home and mope instead.

  • At May 23, 2009 , Anonymous Ricky said...

    While people may have different views still good things should always be appreciated. Yours is a nice blog. Liked it!!!


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