Friday, May 25, 2007

Bright Eyes + Gillian Welch - Lua

First off, this picture is not mine. It's from this blog, and isn't even from the show I went to last night in Boston, but one last week in Columbus. I just wanted to give the due credit before getting started on this entry.

Now, Bright Eyes. I'd previously seen Bright Eyes twice- the first time in February 2004 at Lupo's in Providence RI. M. Ward and Jim James of My Morning Jacket also played that show. The setlist mostly consisted of songs from Lifted Or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground and early versions of future I'm Wide Awake It's Morning tracks. The second was in August 2005 at the Newport Folk Festival, and was heavy I'm Wide Awake It's Morning based. Now in May 2007, the show is completely different. As it was in support of the new album Cassadaga, songs from it made up a good amount of the setlist, 50% to be exact. I'm not crazy about the record (and doubt I ever will be) but he played some of the songs that I really like on it ("Make a Plan to Love Me" and "Four Winds.") The stage setup was much more elaborate than my previous Bright Eyes shows, where besides lighting there was no performance enhancing technology present. This time there was a huge projection screen which a crew member controlled what it showed live during the show. For example at times he scribbled on it with markers, showed pictures, finger painted, played with the Cassadaga cover art and etc. There were of course pre-recorded backgrounds aired too during particular songs. Additionally the stage was adorned with dozens of fake flowers as well as all the band members being dressed completely in white. The stage was packed, with 20+ people playing instruments at times. There was a string sextet, 2 (female) drummers, as well as trumpet, bass, mandolin, violin, steel guitar, and keyboard as well. Here's the full setlist-

Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)
Hot Knives
Make A Plan To Love Me
Four Winds
First Day Of My Life
No One Would Riot For Less
The Calendar Hung Itself
Gold Mine Gutted
Cleanse Song
Soul Singer In A Session Band
I Believe In Symmetry

A Man Named Truth
Look At Miss Ohio
Road To Joy

Highlights were "The Calendar Hung Itself," "First Day of My Life," "Lua," and "Road to Joy." I was estatic to hear "The Calendar Hung Itself," by far the oldest song in the setlist (from 2000's Fevers and Mirrors) and it sounded fantastic with a full band and the pulsing dual drum section. "First Day of My Life" was a different arrangement than the version on I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and was an intersting surprise to hear. It seemed like the majority of attendees were unsure to which song it was before the first lyric. "Lua" was inarguably the highlight of the night. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings joined a lone Conor onstage to perform a version of the song that could rival the album version. Here's an mp3 of this version from the May 2nd performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in CA.

Bright Eyes & Gillian Welch - Lua

"Well, I know that it is freezing
But I think we'll have to walk
Keep waving at the taxis
They keep turning their lights off
But Julie knows a party
At some actor's West Side loft
Supplies are endless in the evening
By the morning they'll be gone

When everything is lonely
I can be my own best friend
Get a coffee and the paper
Have my own conversations
With the sidewalk and the pigeons
And my window reflection
The mask I polish in the evening
By the morning looks like shit

And I know you have a heavy heart
I can feel it when we kiss
And many men stronger than me
Have thrown their backs out trying to lift it
But me, I'm not a gamble
You can count on me to split
The love I sell you in the evening
By the morning won't exist

You're looking skinny like a model
With your eyes all painted black
Keep going to the bathroom
Always say you'll be right back
Well, it takes one to know one, kid
I think you've got it bad
But what's so easy in the evening
By the morning's such a drag

I've got a flask inside my pocket
We can share it on the train
And if you promise to stay conscious
I will try and do the same
Yeah, we might die from medication
But we sure killed all the pain
But what was normal in the evening
By the morning seems insane

And I'm not sure what the trouble was
That started all of this
The reasons all have run away
But the feeling never did
It's not something I would recommend
But it is one way to live
Because what is simple in the moonlight
By the morning never is

Yeah, it was simple in the moonlight
Now it's so complicated
It was so simple in the moonlight
So simple in the moonlight
So simple in the moonlight"

Now the closer, Road to Joy was perhaps the most intense ending to a set that I've ever witnessed. Conor didn't even wait for the "Let's fuck it up boys, MAKE SOME NOISE" cue for the musical dissonance and proceeded to aggressively untune his guitar and rip off several of the strings. The flower setup was then torn to pieces and thrown into the audience as well as drum sticks and maracas. By the end I think I counted 25 people on stage doing their best to break the Beethoven melody into eventual and complete cacophony that lasted for a good five minutes. Drum sets were toppled, acoustic guitar...smashed and stepped through. A flower pot was thrown onto a keyboard to continue the noise long after the majority of the band left the stage. A sole saxaphone player remained who stood on top of a box about 8 feet tall, screeching through the notes until he was finally pulled down and the lights were turned on.

The openers, Oakley Hall and Gillian Welch both were excellent. There was never a moment where you sat just wishing they would hurry on up and get to the headliner. Conor even came out during the last Oakley Hall song to play maracas.

Now here's two videos of Lua, the first a live version with Gillian and the second the normal music video.

Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning @

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