Thursday, November 06, 2008

OKKERVIL RIVER @ MANCHESTER ACADEMY3, 6 NOV 2008

I'd picked up some duff information somewhere along the way which had convinced me that Broken Records were support tonight. So convinced in fact, I had included a BR song in the November Manchester Gigs In Music compilation. Ah but you cannot read that post or listen to it can you? See next post for an explanation of why not.

Stars and Sons were in fact the support - sadly arrived only to catch the last few songs. Presumably named after the Broken Social Scene song(?), this is a good indication of their sound - the arty end of the spectrum of US indie-rock. But they turned out to be from Brighton. They have a single out In The Ocean later this month and definitely worth further listening.


Okkervil River came on about 9.15am. There were two downsides to this gig: firstly they played in a thick haze of dry ice that sadly showed the limits of my mobile phone camera. Secondly, it only lasted an hour and forty five minutes. Other than these two gripes I couldn't fault anything about it and would have loved to hear them play into the small hours.

The six piece (two guitars, bass, electric piano, drums plus trumpet/percussion) gave a fairly faithful rendition of songs from across all their albums but showed real care and attention to the sound and the sequencing of the songs as on record. Both slower and faster songs used intricate instrumentation to give them a real depth but with an added urgency and spark live.

Will Sheff at times reminded me of Colin Meloy at his declamatory best, the un-showy showman-songwriter wagging his finger at the crowd or waving his arm as he delivered these mini-melodramas. Other than Will the band were largely immobile (although drummer Travis was singing and smiling along to everything) but this doesn't suggest a lack of passion - both the brooding, reflective ballads and the raucous rock numbers had bags of the stuff. And when they delivered the sparse and atmospheric A Stone with just Will on acoustic guitar with delicate and minimal accompaniment from electric guitar and trumpet it was heart-stopping. One of my gigs of the year: when can we do this again?

The Set List:
Plus Ones
Singer-Songwriter
A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene
Black
The Latest Toughs
Starry Stairs
John Allyn Smith Sails
Pop Lie
No Key, No Plan
A Stone
Blue Tulip
Lost Coastlines
Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
For Real
Until It Kicks
---
A Girl In Port
Okkervil River Song

All links below are to MP3s made freely available by the band on the Jagjaguwar website.

LOST COASTLINES
Okkervil River
The Stand Ins [BUY]

BLACK
Okkervil River
Black Sheep Boy [BUY]

OUR LIVE IS NOT A MOVIE OR MAYBE
Okkervil River
The Stage Names [BUY]

1 comment:

Pat said...

The duff info about Broken Records was probably from me, I'm afraid - sorry. A booking agent of theirs had all the Okkervil dates down on their myspace and so I furtively updated all the last.fm events... Such a shame - however I did see them in Glasgow and it was fabulous.

Pat