Welch and Rawlings’ show at the Fillmore yet again showed why they’re leaders of the Americana and bluegrass world. Their songs have an enchanting solemnity, gravity of earthly knowledge and simple chords and instruments that manage to convey a vast spread of emotions and rhythms.
Bright Eyes @ Radio City Music Hall, March 9
Words: Jeffrey Greenblatt
Images: Jeremy Gordon
It’s hard to believe that it has been four years since Conor Oberst last recorded under his longtime moniker Bright Eyes, an eternity for a guy that is known for his prolific output. Since the 2007 release of Cassadaga, Oberst has stayed busy by releasing two “solo” albums of breezy, folk-rock with the Mystic Valley Band along with his contributions to the Monsters Of Folk – a band which features his pals Jim James, M. Ward and Mike Mogis. The Omaha native, who has dusted off his Bright Eyes project for the occasional benefit gig in the last few years, finally deemed it time to return to his roots in 2011 with the release of his seventh studio album, The People’s Key.
The album, which may or may not be his last as Bright Eyes depending on who you want to believe, is a sonic departure from his recent work. Oberst has traded in his acoustic guitar for an electric, and his Americana-drenched sound for a maudlin, synth-driven, straight ahead rock one.
Last week, Oberst and his latest version of Bright Eyes – which has featured a rotating lineup over the years, but typically includes multi-instrumentalists Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis – pulled into the Big Apple for a two-night stand at the majestic and cavernous Radio City Music Hall. It was a curious night to be a Bright Eyes fan as the crowd was vocally and visibly excited for the band’s live return to the room they had last played in November of ’07. However, the audience’s enthusiasm seemed to ebb and flow over the course of the two hour show in sync with the crowd’s familiarity with the set list, which included a number of deep cuts.
READ ON for more thoughts on the show and a full picture gallery…