Friday, September 04, 2009


Two gigs in two days is testing my failing health and stretching the tolerance of my family. But this was for Okkervil River!

Mr P and I arrived late’ish at Club Academy both a bit worse for wear. Me due to that failing health, him due to post-work drinks. So sadly we missed Dawn Landes. Painful as it is to say this, Mr P and I are not going to End of the Road Festival this year. So seeing Okkervil River (one of the bands appearing) was meant to be some form of compensation. As it turned out it was more like torture, reminding us of what we would be missing next week (if you too want to torture yourself have a look at the three day schedule pdf for the now-sold-out festival).

So this had all the hallmarks of a disappointing evening. But of course with the ever dependable Okkervil River this was never going to be the case was it? They might have played a set nearly identical to last time but when a band is this good live who cares?

Okkervil River attract a diverse crowd: in immediate vicinity to us were metal-heads, introspective, bookish lower sixth form types, empty-nester couples (I thought they had taken a wrong turn when looking for Miss Saigon or similar – until they started singing along to every word of “Until It Kicks”), and further back someone holding a lengthy hand-written placard referencing Time and Cosmos. As I said “diverse”.

Despite this variety the crowd appeared a bit shy at first. If they were, the band weren’t: after a soaring “Plus Ones” they tore into the next three songs in rapid-fire succession. Stunning. And this was the pattern for the evening – mixing slower and faster songs with equal passion and performance.

I’m sure I’ve said it before but Will Sheff is not only a talented song-writer but a captivating performer. Besuited at first with unbuttoned sleeves poking out of his jacket, he beckoned and implored the audience to sing-along with tiny hand gestures, he added in spoken word interludes over sections of songs addressing the audience collectively and generally provoked mass arm-waving and clapping like a revivalist preacher. Tonight it was some of the slower ones that had a more immediate effect on me – “A Girl In Port” finishing in ferocious guitars, the massed, imploring singalong to the end of “John Allyn Smith Sails”.

So as torture goes, these impassioned nintey minutes including the three encores flew by - and has sort of scratched that itch. Just don’t tell me what their Saturday night slot at EOTR was like. Please. Don't.

Prior to the Festival, Okkervil River are playing Galway, Glasgow, Nottingham and Oxford.

The Set List:
Plus Ones
Singer Songwriter
A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene
The Latest Toughs
A Girl In Port
John Allyn Smith Sails
Pop Lie
A Stone
Blue Tulip
For Real
Lost Coastlines
Our Live Is Not A Movie. Or Maybe.
Unless It Kicks
Maine Island Lovers

Okkervil River
Black Sheep Boy [BUY]

Okkervil River
The Stage Names [BUY]


Catshoe said...

You and me both NOT going to the End of the Road and gutted about what we're missing. It's sold out but there's still the fan to fan ticket exchange... I bought PlanB mag yesterday and that made it worse, the free cover CD was all EOTR artists

Anonymous said...

Have just had another look at the EOTR line-up and am now actually quite glad we're not going. Saturday in particular would be absolute hell - so many must see bands on at the same time that my head would be spinning (not to mention the 48 cans of credible continental lager!).

There's always next year ...

Mr P.

The Archivist said...

Ah well here's to 2010. I mean, it's not like they are going to have a BAD line-up next year is it?