Bright Eyes are my favourite band and I’ve seen them many times. I saw him in his not-looking-up phase at Shepherd’s Bush many years ago. I sat at his feet in the Guardian tent at Glastonbury in one of the most special gigs of my life (he didn’t look up much then either, but I was close enough to touch his leg). I’ve seen his confidence grow at festivals. I saw him in white suit/ long greasy hair phase back at Shepherd’s Bush where he looked like he’d actually learnt to put on a show. But nothing seemed to fit him as right as the performance he put on last night at the Scala. It was like he’d finally worked out who he was (and it’s not Bob Dylan, thank God).
I was so lucky to get these tickets, I really appreciate that. I’ve been to the Scala many times for Popstarz but never seen a gig there, so wasn’t sure how it would work. Me and my best friend got a really decent spot on a raised bit with a little barrier in front of us, so we didn’t have to get crushed and we had a perfect view. I think we chose wisely, as the place ended up absolutely rammed. I have no doubt in my mind that place is a major health and safety risk- if there was a fire, you’d be in big trouble. But hey- I’d have died happy (after the gig, obv).
The support act was Tim Kasher, another Saddle Creeker, who did quite a dreary set, with some unintentionally amusing lyrics.
Bright Eyes started with the intro to the album, which reminded us of Morrissey gigs where he makes you sit through some painful intro, but at least the Bright Eyes one is only 2 minutes 30 seconds (I know, cos I’ve been skipping it on the album!) A word on the album The People's Key; wow, it’s catchy. I’ve been listening to it non-stop, and it bounces around my head constantly. It’s really, really excellent quality, there’s not a bad track on it, and there’s a lot of variety.
He came out in the kind of shirt you’d wear to the office and looked quite pallid, but I think it was just the lighting as his manner and demeanour improved later. He opened with Firewall, which made me think- ah, is he going to do the whole album in order? For once I wouldn’t have minded as I was really looking forward to hearing songs off it. He followed this with another newie (oh God, memory failure). Weirdly after that he did about 6 big hits in a row. We’d been joking that we wasn’t going to do any crowd pleasers, so was quite shocked to hear Gold Mine Gutted, Old Soul Song, Four Winds, Lover I Don’t Have to Love and We Are Nowhere and It’s Now all in a row. I don’t really like Four Winds but what a run. Lover I Don’t Have to Love was amazing, obviously. He followed this with Jejeune Stars which sounded lovely.
My memory is a bit addled so these aren’t necessarily in the exact right order but he also did Shell games, Approximated Sunlight (very cool), Haile Selassie, Cartoon Blues (that was a random one - precluded by him rambling about the crowd being half CGI - but I love it), Bowl of Oranges, Arc of Time, (about the worst song he played all night, and it’s still a good song), No one would Riot for Less (makes me think of my ex boyfriend but stunning), Take it Easy (Love Nothing), An Attempt to Tip the Scales (yes that one with the annoying interview in the middle of it on Fevers & Mirrors) and they did Road to Joy just before they went off.
They even did Something Vague, which I don’t believe I’ve ever heard them do before- I mean, it’s mindblowing. I can hardly believe those song titles are being written here by me, it was such a litany of amazing hits. Even if he’d just come on and looked at the floor and sung them we would have been crying with happiness, but he didn’t, and the band was amazing, the sound was just so good.
He chatted a little- not much but he said happy valentines day and why were we here when we could be having a boring dinner with someone we didn’t like, something about motherfuckers, and a few other bits in between. The most gross part was he kept spitting on the stage and at one stage even spat towards the crowd! Honestly- it’s valentines day, don’t treat your guests like that, Conor. I know you weren't dragged up. He also threw a bottle up in the air which fell back down and hit him in the head, which I thought was quite amusing, considering.
He redeemed himself after the encore coming out with flowers and handing them out to the crowd, very cute. He’d also done his hair like a little girl.
After the encore he did Beginner’s Mind, the Calendar Hung itself (absolutely outstanding live and the first Bright Eyes song I ever heard), Nothing Gets Crossed Out, Poison Oak (beautiful), and One for You, One For Me. I mean, look at that for an encore, FFS. Talk about crowd pleasers. He seemed a bit off his head at the end, he jumped in the crowd and his eyes were rolling back in his head, so he'd probably gone for a 'pick me up' and I don't mean the spit bucket. He was doing some very jerky awkward dancing, which I liked as I hate going to see a band and seeing someone rooted to the spot (take note Battle for the Sun-era Brian Molko). Conor would never have moved like that even five years ago when he just hid behind a guitar (or keyboard).
The night was just fantastic, we had the perfect spot considering how heaving it was in there, and the setlist was a dream. I’ve probably missed some gem out, too. If I was churlish enough to complain about the setlist I’d probably say I’ve heard a lot of those big hits before, but to complain about him playing hits is pretty stupid (although if you’re reading this, Conor, next time can you play I believe in Symmetry, February 15th and Hit the Switch- I’d request A Line Allows Progress, a Circle Does Not, No Lies, Just Love and A Poetic Retelling of an Unfortunate Seduction but I don’t think that’s gonna happen). Oh and I wanted to hear Triple Spiral from the new album, just for the mother crone line, really.
The new album is soooo good, I can’t even choose between songs like Shell Games and Selassie, they are both so strong in their own ways, and sound so good live. Conor was shouty, screamy, sneery, humble, sweet, funny- just everything he should be. He is my perfect popstar, my idol, he means everything to me. I didn’t want to build my hopes up too much beforehand but he totally delivered. It was wonderful. And my best mate loved it an’ all. I don't know what I would have done if I'd never found Bright Eyes. I don't think it's possible.
Bring on the Royal Albert Hall... I can't wait.