Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bright Eyes - March 15, 2011 at the Riviera

When Conor Oberst announced he was moving pass the moniker Bright Eyes and issued his self-titled debut, I was a bit confused. I mean, Bright Eyes is Conor, quite similar to Trent Reznor and his band Nine Inch Nails. Over the years he definitely had help creating those albums, but what would Bright Eyes be without him? The answer is a duo. As critics and blogs heaped on the praise and crowned him the new Dylan, two key components were overlooked: Nate Walcott & Mike Mogis. Truth be told, if you caught Bright Eyes before I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, you might not even recognize this band.

As each album progressed, more and more instruments and genres were explored. I often attributed that to Conor leaving Omaha, living in New York and traveling the world on his many tours. On stage, you get a very different answer. You get a band that really is great and when together, unstoppable. The constant rumor that this is in fact the final album and tour was swirling around the crowd with fans hoping for a certain song (I was praying for "Going For The Gold"). If this is the last go around, they are having a blast doing it.

The opener Firewall was one of the eight new songs played, but in a set of 24, there was plenty of time for a bit of everything. Walking onto the stage as the opening narrative played, they began a marathon of favorites with minimal crowd interaction, but plenty of energy. The first highlight/surprise was "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)", a track that probably couldn't be fleshed out with his previous shows. Nate Wolcott, sitting behind a stack of synthesizers and horns really showcased his talents as the staggering keys and beeps drove the crowd into a frenzy.

A favorite of mine "Cleanse Song" had Mike Mogis playing a beautiful slide guitar that was as clear as a bell while Conor swayed with the crowd. It brought a smile to my face. Another song that found rebirth was "Falling Out of Love at This Volume", a song written in 1995 and almost as old as the 18+ crowd.

The 3-song sequence of "Beginner's Mind", "Bowl Of Oranges" & "Poison Oak" would have been enough for me to call the night a success as they found their folk side. Lyrically I couldn't ask for more honesty than lines like "stay awhile, my inner child/ I'd like to learn your tricks/know what makes you tick/nurse you when you're sick" or the welcomed sadness of "well, I don't think I ever loved you more/than when you turned away/when you locked the door/when you stole the car/and drove towards Mexico". How can such a sad song be so damn good?

"Lua" was played especially slow with an acoustic guitar and a whimpering horn. "Road to Joy" should have been the closer, with so much built up tension and those fantastic words "let's fuck it up boys/make some noise!". Instead "One for You, One for Me" was the last song played, ending much like the new album, only much, much louder... The band is currently playing shows in the US through June, so please go see them.

1. Firewall
2. Jejune Stars
3. Take It Easy (Love Nothing)
4. Four Winds
5. Cleanse Song
6. We Are Nowhere and It's Now
7. Shell Game
8. Approximate Sunlight
9. Arc of Time (Time Code)
10. Falling Out of Love at This Volume
11. Triple Spiral
12. Hot Knives
13. An Attempt To Tip The Scales
14. Padraic My Prince
15. Beginner's Mind
16. Bowl of Oranges
17. Poison Oak
18. Old Soul Song (For The New World Order)
19. The Calendar Hung Itself...
20. Ladder Song
21. Lua
22. Lover I Don't Have to Love
23. Road to Joy
24. One For You, One For Me

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