Immanuel Presbyterian Church
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Conor Oberst’s most loyal and determined fans camped outside of The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church hours before the second of his two sold-out shows. Many waited to get outside to score a prime seat to get an up close and personal view of their favorite artist. Conor Oberst shares a deeply personal and intense relationship with his audience. They feel incredibly connected to his songs which strike a relatable, universal chord. This generational hero is considered one of the best confessional singer/songwriters of the 21st century. The lyrical themes center on health issues, casual sex, familial disappointment, mistrust of religion and deconstructing the mythology of hero worship that is both disillusioning and futile. The mercurial and charismatic performer has touched and moved his audiences emotionally over the last 10-plus years of his diverse career. His powerful, raw, gut-wrenching, unadorned musical style and songwriting is captivating and holds one’s attention.
One fan standing outside prior to the show excitedly spoke about flying in from Texas to see Oberst. Another couple said they bought tickets for both shows. They passionately discussed the performance from Friday night saying they didn’t care if they heard the same set (“Ruminations” – Oberst’s seventh solo album, played in its entirety) and the second half of the show (featuring material culled from the seminal band Bright Eyes and Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley). Among the many songs performed, “You Loved Him All At Once, “A Little Uncanny,” and the achingly effective cover of The Replacements’ plaintive “Here Comes A Regular” were standout numbers.
Accompanying himself an occasional guitar, piano and harmonica, Oberst was also supported by a lead electric and acoustic guitarist providing back vocals. The almost two-hour show was a stripped-down affair with minimal in-between song banter save for a few brief explanations about a number here and there and how they came to be written. There was a respectful hush in the sanctuary as Oberst quickly regaled with fans his offbeat and quirky stories. There could have been more interaction with the crowd, but the impact and weight of the performance, never suffered for it. Oberst let the songs do the talking so to speak. The material was strong enough to carry the show from the beginning to the end. There wasn’t a need to pad out the performance with superfluous conversation/small talk to fill the momentary spaces. In fact, the crowd reaction was positive and approving throughout with constant applause greeting every song and shouts to Oberst of their devotion. Oberst, in turn, graciously and sincerely thanked his fans for coming out to the Saturday night show, and joked back in a semi self-effacing manner, he appreciated them seeing his show Friday night, too.cx