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Wow. Where do I begin?

Last night I went to the best live gig I’ve ever been to. We arrived at The Corner around 9:00, which meant that we missed checking out the first support act, Henry Wagons so unfortunately I can’t comment on his performance. Second support act was Via Tania – smoky laid back indie rock with a bit of attitude.

By this time the crowd was pretty dense and when lead singer Will Sheff appeared on stage everyone was packed in pretty tight, ready for the show to begin. And what a show it was. From the opening notes of ‘The President’s Dead’ until the closing notes of ‘Westfall’, Okkervil River were simply sublime.

Set List:
The President’s Dead
A Hand To Take Hold of the Scene
(Unsure of the third song, if you know what it was, let me know!)
A Girl In Port
Plus Ones
You Can’t Hold The Hand Of A Rock And Roll Man
Black Sheep Boy (I think)
John Allyn Smith Sails

(First Encore)
Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
Unless It’s Kicks

(Second Encore)
It Ends With A Fall
Okkervil River Song

(Third Encore)
A Glow
Westfall

The only song I would want to add to this near perfect set list is ‘Love To A Monster’…unfortunately, despite three encores, it was not to be). 

Needless to say, every song was fantastic, but there were several highlights:

‘A Girl In Port’ had a languid start, the words of the first verse dripping from lead singer Sheff’s tongue as he kicked it off alone before the band gradually joined in, layering sound that just kept building. Faultless.

‘Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe’ was a high energy number, with a mad bit of discord in the middle of the song and at the end. We were pretty close to the speakers, and I blame this one for the majority of the ringing in my ears at the end of the show! Awesome.

My favourite part though was ‘A Stone’, my favourite Okkervil track. I’m always a little apprehensive when I see a band and they begin to play my favourite song. My expectations are usually quite high, and a couple of times I’ve been disappointed (ie. Augie March stuffing around while playing ‘One Crowded Hour’ at the HiFi gig late last year). I should’ve known that Okkervil would not disappoint.

It was a stripped down acoustic version, three piece – guitar, bass and horns. Sheff began it in the same way he began ‘A Girl In Port’, slow and drawn out – probably a step or two slower than the album version. I was grinning like an idiot the entire way through, because it was just so damn good, and when he got to the last verse “I think I believe that if stones could dream…” I realised I was holding my breath. It was just Sheff’s voice, no backing and each word was carefully measured out to create an effect that literally left a crowd of a few hundred people in complete and silent awe. I’m even prepared to admit that when he got to “I think that I know the bitter dismay of a lover who brought fresh bouquets every day…” I realised there was a tear in my eye. Breathtaking.

If you haven’t seen Okkervil River yet, make sure you catch them next time they’re in your area. I can’t praise them highly enough.

(A side note: We did wonder if Okkervil River perhaps sponsors a breeding program for exceptionally tall people. I have never seen so many tall blokes, many of them towering over the 6 foot mark, in one room. Remarkable.)

You can check out my Countdown To Okkervil posts here.

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