Villagers have always been a great live proposition, and tonight was no exception. The band began with Awayland opener My Lighthouse, before a rousing version of Home from 2010′s superb “Becoming a Jackal”. It became immediately apparent that the band were going to create some sweet-sounding music tonight, with Conor O’Brien cradling a small-sized acoustic and a backing band consisting of drums, keyboard, guitar and bass.
A tender version of Meaning of the Ritual followed, as the crowd hushed to enjoy every subtle chord change and vocal. Grateful Song followed, and it became apparent that even live, the songs on their first album generally beat anything on their new album. Highlights from Becoming a Jackal were The Pact, and the set-closer, an uptempo driving version of Ship of Promises.
After a brief break, Villagers returned for an encore. Or at least O’Brien did, to play an unbelievable solo version of That Day, which he claimed he wished he had recorded for the album. Anunciating every word and at times whispering over gently strummed chords, you could sometimes here cans of beet rattling around from the bar areas at the back, so entranced were the crowd. Rhythm Composer, sounding something like The Beatles, showed O’Brien has not lost his knack of writing a tune, before the band closed with three great song in Becoming a Jackal, The Waves and Nothing Arrived.
This was a superb gig, highlighting that Conor O’Brien is one of the most talented musicians around at the minute, a great songwriter and no mean guitarist with a superb voice. And Villagers showed what a great live band they still are. The new album may struggle to live up to its predecessor, but it has more than enough highs to maintain their position as a live act not to be missed.
3.The Meaning of the Ritual
5.Set the Tigers Free
6.Passing a Message
9.In a Newfoundland You are Free
10.On a Sunlit Stage
11.The Pact (I’ll Be Your Fever)
14.Ship of Promises
15.That Day (Solo)
17.Becoming a Jackal