Posts Tagged ‘Conor Oberst’

Lua by Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch – a duet made in Heaven

April 16, 2009
Of all the rockpop musicians I’ve seen in the last ten years, none give better gig than Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch. They’re both outstanding writers and performers, the cream of their generation.

And they’ve just released a duet of Oberst’s classic song, Lua. I’m usually very skeptical about duets, but Lua is a duet made in Heaven.

It’s squirreled away on Dark Was The Night, a new compilation album, though the single track is also available from iTunes.

Highly recommended – you won’t hear a better duet for grown-ups. Ever.

Gerry Smith

Leonard Cohen, Conor Oberst and John McLaughlin – top gigs for grown-ups in 2008

December 29, 2008
The year just ending was a vintage year for live music. From grand opera house to sweaty rock dive, and worthy municipal folk gig to massive arena poprock spectacular, I saw some great musicians for grown-ups performing in 2008.

The five gigs which will linger longest in my memory were:

1. Leonard Cohen – London O2
2. Conor Oberst – Portsmouth
3. John McLaughlin – Barbican
4. Bjork – Plymouth
5. Cecilia Bartoli – Barbican

And the two next best were:
6. Morrissey – Roundhouse
7. Hansel & Gretel – Royal Opera House

What were your top 5 gigs? Please share your list with other readers – please email me at

Gerry Smith

Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes: recommendations

September 3, 2008
Deeply impressed by last Tuesday’s Conor Oberst gig (reviewed here on Music For Grown-Ups last week), I’ve been exploring the compelling indie-rocker’s back catalogue to ID the pick of the crop.

The first two big albums, from 2005, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, and Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, were already firm favourites. They’ve now been joined on my playlist by the breakthrough CD, Lifted (2002) and the live set, Motion Sickness.

Last year’s Cassadaga (2007) is also a fine record. The recent switch from Bright Eyes, resulting in the admirable Conor Oberst CD (August 2008), completes the list.

Half a dozen fine albums, all Music For Grown-Ups hot recommendations: there are few more interesting artists than Oberst in contemporary music.

Gerry Smith

Conor Oberst in Portsmouth: a magical gig

August 27, 2008
Last night’s Conor Oberst gig in Portsmouth was a stunner. The city’s sold-out Wedgwood Rooms, a tiny venue holding about 500, standing, was treated to a committed, energetic Oberst show, with powerful support from his Mystic Valley Band.

The 1 hour 40 minute show took you on an eclectic, richly musical tour, veering from country rock to confessional singer-songwriter balladry and new wave/indie rock to the Chicago blues.

The core of the set was a trio of songs from the fine new album (also called Conor Oberst): Moab, Milk Thistle, and I Don’t Want To Die (In The Hospital).

A highlight – one among many – was a rousing blues version of Corrina Corrina, the trad ballad popularized by Bob Dylan (on The Freewheelin’…). It showed the Mystic Valley Band – three guitars, drums and keyboards/synth/flugelhorn – at their best. The impossibly young lad playing bottleneck seized his opportunity to excel.

The Mystic Valley Band were a fine complement to Oberst all night long – having clearly bonded creatively and socially during the gestation of the new album in remote rural Mexico.

Conor Oberst (the artist formerly known for Bright Eyes), an engaging, immensely likeable performer, overcame a heavy cold just to be there – he was sweating profusely, spluttering, drinking, even spitting (!) all night long. Many less committed musos would have stayed in bed in the hotel with a hot water bottle and a pile of pills. Oberst worked very hard – and enjoyed it.

The head cold – and the mainly rock-out setlist – meant that Oberst’s signature, keening, tremulous vocals, were reined in, except in the ballads. Watching him from 10 feet away reminded me just what a gifted musician, songwriter and performer he really is: few contemporary rockers can touch him.

I half believe that rock is dead, but gigs like last night’s magical Conor Oberst show prove that it has plenty of life left – it just depends who’s playing.

Catch this tour! Buy the new album!

Gerry Smith

Jim Moray and Conor Oberst – two best albums of 2008

August 5, 2008
Jim Moray, English nu-folkie with attitude, and Conor Oberst, mannered purveyor of tremulous Americana, are particular favourites of Music for Grown-Ups.

They’re both in their 20s. Their outstanding catalogues prove that music for grown-ups doesn’t have to issue from superannuated (or dead) artists, but can be delivered by musos of any age.

By coincidence, both these exceptionally talented young men have just released fine new albums – Moray’s Low Culture and Oberst’s Conor Oberst

Happily, they are the two best albums of 2008. Better still, I’ve got tickets to see both performing live in small venues in the next few weeks.


Gerry Smith

Conor Oberst’s English gigs

June 19, 2008
My, my, my.

The year 2008 is turning into an annus mirabilis for this grown-up rockpop fan. After fulfilling long-held ambitions of seeing Morrissey and Bjork in concert, I then booked to catch Beck and Leonard Cohen: which will give me four ticks out of a must-see list of about eight artists.

Tomorrow I hope to add Conor Oberst (erstwhile Bright Eyes), who’s just announced English gigs this summer.

At this rate, before very long, there’ll be no-one left on my poprock must-see list. Joni Mitchell… Radiohead… Paul Weller… and, er, that’s about it.

Gerry Smith