Bright Eyes (with Rilo Kiley)

London Astoria on Mon 14th Mar 2005

It was the final night of the Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley combination and anyone who managed to get tickets to this tour will know how lucky they were. The usual celebrities were out in force at the Astoria tonight, namely Kelly Osborne. She looked a lot prettier in real life than she does on the telly. Not sure of the relevance of that comment to this review but an interesting fact nevertheless!

Rilo Kiley kicked off the night. If Kelly Osbourne looked vaguely pretty then there is no way that Jenny Lewis, the lead singer of the band, could fail to grab my attention. She is fit! She has a voice of an angel. Rilo Kiley have a bunch of awesome tunes! Winning formula. Wonderful pop songs that are catchy, inventive and humourous with a definite dark twist within many of the lyrics.

It took me a couple of songs to stop dribbling at Lewis. Then just when I had stopped the 6-piece band launced into their new single "Portions for Foxes". Lewis sang "the talking leads to touching, and the touching leads to sex, and then there is no mystery left". It's a brave call but I think that this song was the highlight of the whole night. Jangling guitars and harmonies from heaven. Pure pop genius.

Time for Bright Eyes to take to the stage led by their super skinny, supergeek talisman, Conor Oberst. Having recently released two new albums on the same day I was expecting a bulk of material to come from these. I was nearly correct. The bulk of the material came from new album "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning" with not one song from the other new album "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn". Slightly disappointing but it took nothing away from a fantastic show.

The upbeat acoustic opener, "At the Bottom of Everything", was the first of many effortless crowd pleasers. It was maybe the most optimistic song of the night even though the lyrics focus on a plane plunging from 30,000ft. "Lua" was a beautiful solo performance from Oberst that silenced the crowd to an extent that I have had never before heard at the Astoria. "Another Travelin' Song" bounded along describing the difficulty of settling anywhere whilst on the road. "First Day of my Life" is a genuine love song with Oberst wearing his emotions on his sleeve. Although he hasn't the greatest of voices it often has a delicate and crumbling edge that can send a shiver down the spine.

The encore all became a little too political for my liking. I only came to listen to a bit of music and not to be lectured about politics. However, each to their own and the crowd lapped it up. Oberst came back to the stage alone to sing a rousing solo performance. He sang "When the President spoke to God...did he smell his own bullshit? I doubt it, I doubt it". Subtle.

"Road to Joy" was the final song of the night. Rilo Kiley were invited back on stage to "fuck it up and make some noise!" - which they did. Three drummers, three keyboard players, 4 guitar players and a trumpet all made massive noise around the same incessant guitar line. My ears broke but the night had been superb.

Two brilliant bands with excellent musicianship. If you ever get a chance to see either, then I advise you to do so.

article by: Tom Powell

published: 18/03/2005 10:15

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