Review: Conor Oberst, O2 ABC

It was a quick return to Scotland for Conor Oberst on Tuesday night – and for that we were grateful.

Indeed, six months on from his five-star showing at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall, the insanely-talented Nebraskan rocked up at Glasgow’s O2 ABC – this time with a six-piece band in tow – to tear through tracks from both his beloved band Bright Eyes and his many impressive solo albums.

As was to be expected, last year’s Ruminations and its March 2017 companion piece Salutations featured heavily in the setlist, but the biggest cheer of the night sounded when Oberst brought out Adrianne Lenker, lead singer with Brooklyn band Big Thief (the support act), for a heart-melting rendition of the Bright Eyes classic Lua.

Oberst had already delighted the long-term fans in attendance by dusting off both the rarely-played Something Vague, Poison Oak and First Day Of My Life, perhaps the best-known song in the entire Bright Eyes canon.

Of the newer numbers, Till St Dymphna Kicks Us Out, Too Late To Fixate and Empty Hotel By The Sea were particular standouts. Truth told, though, you could pick out practically anything from the 18-song setlist and hail it as a highlight.

As we’ve come to expect from Oberst, he took time out to unload on his country’s “piece of shit President”; that “fucking orange rat” otherwise known as Donald Trump.

At the end of his Edinburgh gig in February, in which he’d performed mostly solo on piano, harmonica and acoustic guitar, Oberst promised to return to these shores and give his newer songs the full-band treatment he’d always intended for them.

It proved to be a shrewd move as the 37-year-old indie-folk icon and his brilliant band breathed new life into songs that are already sounding like classics.

All told, this was another triumphant gig from one of the greatest songwriters of his generation – so roll on the next one.

As they say in Scotland, Haste Ye Back, Conor!

Words: Gary Flockhart


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