Review by Tess Kerbel
There are gigs that go down in history, gigs where something very rare and very special happens, where people come together and experience the extraordinary. This was one of those gigs.
Live on stage, Conor Oberst is electrifying, part spoken-word poet, part rock god, trembling one moment, roaring the next. He rocks out at every opportunity, strumming the hell out of his guitar, leaping off the riser and jamming with his bandmates. Support act and backing band The Felice Brothers played a strong set in their own right, but with Oberst at the helm, they were sensational, and he couldn’t stop giving them props. ‘The Felice Brothers, everyone. Holy shit!’
Oberst played for more than two hours, including a foot-stomping, room-shaking encore. It was a massive set, featuring tunes from his new album, Upside Down Mountain, and scores of old favourites.
Highlights included a rockin’ rendition of ‘Easy/Lucky/Free’; the haunting, heartbreakingly beautiful ‘Milk Thistle’— with just Oberst and bass player Christmas Clapton in a haze of blue light—and a transcendental performance of ‘Song to Pass the Time’, featuring Greg Farley on violin.
Oberst is a once-in-a-generation talent, a performer with the power to bring us out of ourselves and into the moment—and last night he was giving it everything he’s got.
‘We don’t get down here very much,’ he drawled into the microphone through a fall of dark hair, ‘so we’re going to keep playing for y’all. But if you were born after 1985 and have a very short attention span, you can leave. Go and check your iPhone or something. It’s not going to bother us one little bit.’
I’d like to say that no one left, but I think a few people missed the irony.
For the rest of us, there was nowhere else to be.
Conor Oberst – www.facebook.com/conoroberst
The Felice Brothers – www.thefelicebrothers.com
Venue: Metro Theatre, Sydney
Date: March 4, 2015