Bright Eyes – Thursday November 10, The Hi-Fi
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Bright Eyes – Thursday November 10, The Hi-Fi

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Emma Russack and her band elicited a moody, mesmerising air through their evocative jazz-inspired lamentations. It was, however, the kind of music that deserves an attentiveness that an assemblage of extremely feverish Bright Eyes fans can’t quite provide.

Having released eight studio albums as Bright Eyes (alongside solo records, Monsters Of Folk and previous bands), Nebraskan singer-songwriter Conor Oberst is notably prolific, but more importantly, Oberst is a profound and compelling songwriter. His astute musings and poetic articulations of the political, personal, social and cultural often reach revelatory heights. Oberst could sell out shows on his lonesome due to his indelible presence and multi-instrumental talents, but his band – comprising incredible guitarist/producer Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott (trumpet, organ), two drummers, a bassist and additional keyboardist – are truly remarkable.

From the riotously invigorating set opener, Four Winds, to a four-song encore ending in One For You, One For Me, Bright Eyes extracted a level of searing passion, intensity and catharsis that’s rarely upheld throughout a two-and-a-quarter-hour set. It was apparent that Bright Eyes’ fifth album – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (2005) – resides eternally within the hearts of his fans. Old Soul Song (For The New World Order), Poison Oak and Landlocked Blues (Oberst’s piercing proclamation of “greed is a bottomless pit, and our freedom’s a joke,” shook us mercilessly and potently) overwhelmed emotional fans and left them jolting and teary-eyed.

It was as thrilling to hear the decade-old songs as it was to witness some of the finest tracks off The People’s Key live. Whether it was the uplifting percussion-driven Arc Of Time (Time Code), the devastating melancholy of Something Vague or the exquisite Spring Cleaning (as featured on his collaborative split EP with Neva Dinova), Oberst and his band exhibited an awe-inspiring vitality and a depth of musicianship that’s extremely humbling. Oberst’s introspective, morbid and emotive brilliance translates into something transcendent and life-affirming in its live performance. If only gigs of such a gripping, poignant and frighteningly pertinent quality weren’t so rare.

LOVED: Something Vague , Landlocked Blues, Poison Oak, Old Soul Song (For The New World Order)… devastatingly glorious moments.

HATED: Introducing band members during the encore impeded the momentum ever so slightly.

DRANK: Bottled beer.