Feb 23, 2014

Okkervil River @ Oxford Art Factory

Friday night at the Oxford Art Factory was my seventh time seeing the greatness of Okkervil River. Eight if you include a Will Sheff solo show in Melbourne. It's been interesting to see their development and growth over the years since seeing them the first time back in 2005. One thing they have always had is a fierce intensity. An intensity that has made each and every show completely worthwhile. In 2013 the band released their latest album in "The Silver Gymnasium". Whilst I don't believe it is their best it has definitely grown on me. Which is a good thing because they played a fair slew of it. Throw in some classics and this night turned out to be as great as all the previous live visits to this great Texan band.

Of course it all starts with the main man Will Sheff. This man of punchy intelligence and a complete ability to offer his heart and mind to every single live show. There is a manic energy to his persona on stage. Almost deranged by the time he throws himself into the unstoppable closing song in "Unless It's Kicks". He looks exhausted and bedraggled. Which is probably because he has offered himself to the the fray for the previous hour and a half. It starts with a beautiful rage in "It Was My Season". "Black" has us bouncing off the walls and "John Allyn Smith Sails" has us clearing our throats and screaming in unison. "The Valley" tears us a new one and then he announces he will play a classic in "Kansas City". We were putty in his hands. The encore gives us Sheff solo as he entrances us with "A Stone". It is at this point that I feel it's time to give thanks that bands like Okkervil River exist. That songwriters and singers like Will Sheff are in the world. There is no substitution for king size hearts and angry intelligence.

Set List
It Was My Season
On a Balcony
John Allyn Smith Sails
Stay Young
The Valley
Kansas City
For Real
Our Live Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
Lost Coastlines

A Stone (solo)
A Girl In Port
Down Down the Deep River
Unless It's Kicks


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