Wednesday, 4 July 2007
Bright Eyes- Shepherds Bush Empire 3rd July
In a ridiculous but pleasant turn of events I went to see Bright Eyes again, having already seen them twice in the past two weeks. However, you cannot ever have too many chips or too much Bright Eyes, right? Well I can't. I have about four bands whom I'm obsessive about and the rest of music I couldn't really care less for. And Bright Eyes is (sorry Morrissey) numero uno, at least for this year. I do have some pics but haven't uploaded yet.
As usual the queue was full of kids and we were the second oldest people I could see there (ooh I sound like someone of Big Brother now). There were a few more grannies in there but on the whole it was pretty teenage girls and boys with ridiculously overstyled hair.
We hurried in and got one row back from the front, doing our usual 'no drinks, no wee' policy.
I noticed the support band were Lightspeed Champion (awful name) whom I'd seen on MTV2 the previous day and quite liked. The lead singer was the guy from the Test Icicles (not good at this band name thing, is he?) whom I'd had a passing interest in, so I was quite pleased.
I thought a couple of their songs were really, really good (namely the two singles). The one they did at the end in particular was excellent. The weirdest part was I (eventually) recognised Emmy the Great doing the backing vocals! I'm a massive fan of hers, so no wonder I like the band. I really like the lead singer's vocals too, they remind me a lot of The Dears (NOT for obvious reasons) but the exchange between the male and female vocals and the variety of intruments. I am quite liking violins lately, I used to hate them but Patrick Wolf and Bright Eyes both have good violinists so I have warmed to them.
Lightspeed Champion did appear to have a few comedy songs, with silly lyrics, but it was pretty good fun for a support act. I think I shall download their album (if it's out).
And then onto the main event. It was a similar set up to Glastonbury, all white suits and flowers. Conor is more of a showman than I've ever seen him. They opened with Clairaudients and then did Hot Knives. The set was quite Cassadaga heavy (Four Winds/ Soul Singer- yawn), but I expected that.
About quarter of an hour into this gig I thought 'God, this is a bit different to the last time I saw them here, when he sat down and didn't look up once'. About half an hour into the gig Conor said, 'I really like this theatre, it's is a bit different to the last time I was here, when I sat on a stool and didn't look up once'. I remember it well, it was 2004 and we were right at the back, it didn't even look like the same venue to me. The stage looked forty times bigger. Back then Conor played literally two songs that I knew, one of them being Lover I Don't Have To Love. The rest I didn't know, and I was heavily into Bright Eyes then, so I don't know what the hell he played or was thinking.
This was quite different. I would say Conor picks a crowd-friendly setlist but now he puts on a fantastic show. There was a lot less twiddling with guitars and the mic and stressing over the sound. It was much better than when we saw them at Koko a few months back (sorry Red and Asterisk!) when they were looking dangerously countryfied.
I quite like the jazzed up version of First Day Of My Life (I used to find it a real drag). I LOVE the live version of The Calendar Hung Itself that they do. I thought they could have cut Make a Plan To Love Me (makes me cringe) and although I like Lime Tree it's not exactly rip-roaring live.
Highlights were No One Would Riot for Less which is beautiful (it's all building up to the 'just you' at the end- absolutely love it) and he threw in oldie I Wont Ever Be Happy Again which I'd not heard him do live before. They also did Southern State which brought back memories of the amazing Guardian lounge gig at Glastonbury. But the REAL highlights for my boyfriend and I who are Digital Ash lovers were I Believe in Symmetry and Gold Mine Gutted. I Believe in Symmetry is probably one of my top three favourite Bright Eyes songs ever (and there's some stiff competition) and it was mind-blowing to hear it live. I felt like I was going to cry or be sick. I even didn't mind that his guitar fucked up and he stomped off after kicking the amp over. At least he finished the song. I can die happy now I've heard that live. When they came back after the encore and did Gold Mine Gutted it was just an added bonus. I loved him playing the keyboard and doing some crazy dance moves- it was nice to see him loosen up a bit.
I've forgotten what they did in between that but they finished with At The Bottom of Everything which weirdly seemed to get the biggest cheer of the night- God knows why as I've always seen it as basic filler. Who listens to this tracks with all the babble at the start anyway?! I think people were gagging to hear stuff off I'm Wide Awake... so I was quite pleased he didn't play much off it. That will teach them for not liking Digital Ash more! Having said that, I wouldn't have minded hearing 'Old Soul Song' agai, that is excellent live.
All in all we left with big smiles on our faces but I heard a few people whining. I don't think Conor's ever going to do the Bright Eyes jukebox set that people want from him. You just have to take the bits of magic where you can. As it is, the band have come on a long way and we even got a little bit of screaming. Yay. I would do it all again next week if I could.