Conor Oberst took to an intimate stage in front of a die-hard, fan-flooded crowd in Brisbane on Wednesday, kicking off his long awaited Australian tour. After a big year for the Nebraskan with the release of solo album Upside Down Mountain, Oberst finally made it to Australia- pleasing the crowd with a variety of songs from his solo project and the much adored Bright Eyes.
The Other Guys: The Felice Brothers
Hailing from New York, the fiddle playing, according swinging, country rock band The Felice Brothers brought a refreshingly passionate performance full of great songs. With music and lyrical content comparable to Conor Oberst himself, The Felice Brothers had an array of dynamic songs on offer for the evening including the contagious Cherry Licorice – “all I want to eat is Cherry Licorice, I don’t care if it sounds ridiculous. Even the birds and bees eat as they damn well please”.
A favourite band of Oberst’s, as self-confessed during the show, their songs drew the crowd in delivering a far higher standard of performances than that of the usual support band.
Walking out onto the stage wearing a wide-brimmed hat (probably to hide his jetlagged expression), Oberst started up with Time Forgot followed nicely by Four Winds, a Bright Eyes country classic, performed with fiddle and all. Oberst then moved on to a healthy balance of back-catalogue tunes including First Day of My Life, Cape Canaveral and Easy/Lucky/Free along with his fresher releases such as Zigzagging Towards The Light and Hundreds of Ways.
Oberst wasn’t able to bring his band of music veterans on this tour, instead he utilised the talent of support band The Felice Brothers. Unfortunately, this meant that some songs weren’t quite as tight as they should have been which was evident by the restart of a couple of songs throughout the set. It was, however, marvellous to watch Oberst’s influence over the music in his attempts to bring the band back into sync, walking back and forth between the drum kit and lead guitar nodding his head in approval and maintaining the beat in a conductor like fashion.
The venue’s intimate setting paired with Oberst’s overt passion in his music and words captivated the audience. It was quite an experience to see so many people in awe, some even weeping, during the performance of 35-year-old folk singer; a sight most would expect from a One Direction concert. For a man considered to be indie music royalty, managing to stay relevant in the indie rock and folk music scene for over a decade, Oberst still seemed quite humbled to be returning to Australia, professing how happy he was to be there.
When it was time for the encore, Oberst delighted the crowd by inviting onto the stage his wife, Corina. The pair gave a couple of duets, performing An Attempt to Tip The Scales and covering John Prine’s song Long Monday. Although Oberst looked like he needed a nap pretty badly, assuring the audience that he was not a drug addict but just really tired, he managed to play for almost a whopping two hours; a respectful feat for the sleepy artist.
Conor Oberst and The Felice Brothers performed a wonderfully captivating and interesting show that is definitely worth catching if you are in Melbourne or Sydney over the next few days.
As Oberst played Laura Laurent, released in 2002, he saw a fan who was singing along to every word. Naturally, Oberst gave the fan his microphone and let him take it away; a beautiful sight of appreciation for a long-term fan.
The second last song performed of the set was Another Travelin’ Song, which if you’ve ever listened to before might spur mental images of country ho-downs and distant roars of ‘yahoo!’ This song also seemed to be enjoyed not only by the audience, but also by the performers themselves. The fiddle player even put down his fiddle and picked up the washboard. Now that’s country!
After Oberst performed Ten Women:
“That was some kind of backhanded love song. Come to think of it, so is this one. It’s a bit nicer though.”
Oberst then goes on to perform Artifact #1.
An ironic statement from Oberst as he inadvertently describes a reoccurring theme in his music, not only to be found in these two songs.
What it Looked Like: