As the lights dimmed and the band took the stage shortly after 10PM, the recorded conspiracy theory ramblings that kick off The People’s Key rang out over the PA just before Bright Eyes launched into Firewall. There seemed to be a conscious effort made by Oberst to distance himself from his jangly, roots-rock sound, deciding instead to focus on songs from his catalog that were more in tune with that of his new album. All in all, the band leaned heavily on its recent LP playing eight of its ten tracks.
Oberst reached into his vast songbook for deep cuts like Padraic My Prince from his 1998 album Letting Off The Happiness, Tip Of The Scales and The Calendar Hung Itself from 2000’s Fevers & Mirrors, Trees Get Wheeled Away from the rarities collection Noise Floor as well as two tracks from Digital Ash In A Digital Urn. The rarities were performed much to the delight of the the hardcore Bright Eyes fans at the sold-out venue, but seemingly to the chagrin of those that were clamoring for more of what could be constituted as “the hits.”
While there where no shouts of “Judas” when Oberst was playing rowdy, electronica-tinged rock music, the biggest ovations of the night came when he strapped on his acoustic guitar. A three-song run of Bowl Of Oranges, Old Soul Song and Poison Oak was particularly well received.
There was nothing fundamentally flawed with what was going on, on stage, as Bright Eyes delivered a tight, well-paced show. What seemed to be lacking on this night was any sense of intimacy. You could certainly attribute that to the size of the near 6,000-capacity room, but it also had to something to do with the lack of warmth within the new material. At times the tunes came across as a little too slick and a little to polished for an artist that fans have come to love for his confessional songwriting and impassioned vocals and arrangements.
Set: Firewall , Jejune Stars, Take It Easy (Love Nothing), Hot Knives, An Attempt To Tip the Scales, Padraic My Prince, We Are Nowhere and It’s Now, Shell Games, Approximate Sunlight, Arc Of Time (Time Code), Triple Spiral, Cleanse Song, Trees Get Wheeled Away, No One Would Riot For Less, Beginner’s Mind, Bowl of Oranges, Old Soul Song, Poison Oak, The Calendar Hung Itself, Ladder Song
Encore: Lover I Don’t Have to Love, Road To Joy, One for You One for Me