Report: Conor Oberst Live in Madison

 

September
23, with The Mynabirds opening, was a night for sensitive indie-rock fans and
their partners.

 

By Klaus
Nyman / Photos by Brooke Lyn Lantis

 

The Mynabirds, opening for Conor Oberst, made their debut
visit to Madison, WI. Singer songwriter Laura Burhenn
delicately sat behind a grand piano while her only joining member, Tom Hnatow,
proved a variation of skills between steel and electric guitar. Seeking
approval of the audience she apologized and explained the absence of her missing
band members. She expressed their sadness for not being present, but promised their
return for any future dates booked. Up close and personal, the now-duo set an
intimate tone for a seated Capitol Theater audience.

 

Their set included tunes from the debut release, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the
Flood
as well as the recent Generals, along with a cover of Lenard Cohen’s “Susanne.” The pair returned after
their performance accompanying Oberst for the songs, “Classic Cars,” “Laura
Laurent,” “Make War” and a few more.

 

 

 

 

 

Opening with “The Big Picture” Conor Oberst picked through
the first three numbers on his acoustic guitar by his lonesome. His shoulder
length hair hung in his face and rested on his navy blue suit jacket as he
pressed his mouth up against the microphone. “The picture’s far too big to look
at kid and your eyes won’t open wide enough”, he sang, as the audience focused
intently on the formally dressed, groomed and seated musician.

 

The set included 19 songs, 2 of which are yet to be
released.

 

When starting the unreleased “You
are Your Mothers Child” he fumbled to recall the opening line. Hesitating,
he admitted his forgetfulness and laughed amusedly. He sat hoping to remember,
but the lyrics continued to evade him. He leaned over and whispered (not
really) stage right for help behind the curtain – then dug back in as if nothing
had happened. In between songs he told brief stories of how some of the hooks were
created, and who the lyrics were about. There was a rotation of musicians accompanying
Oberst throughout the evening, but a large chunk of his material was performed
solo. The intimate size of the venue and the simple stage setup was exactly
what fans were craving.  (The Capitol
Theater requires guests to sit during performances, which only enhanced the
music and minimized distractions.)

 

 

 

 He moved back and forth from the front of the stage with his
guitar to the rear to set at a grand piano. Prior to performing the slower
paced tune “Breezy” he sat and stared up into the white lights, the requested the
technician’s assistance, saying, “As blue as Fucking possible, because I’m not a
fan of white lights.” At the end, as he exited the stage, the audience gave a lengthy
standing ovation until he returned for two final songs. Following that, he
shook hands stage-side for a few moments, and then disappeared.  

 

 

Set List:

 

The Big Picture
Arienette
First Day Of My Life
Kick (New song)

Cape Canaveral
At The Bottom Of Everything
White Shoes
Lenders In The Temple
Classic Cars
Ladder
You are Your Mothers Child
June On The West Coast
Shell Games
Map Of The World
Lime Tree
Laura Laurent
Breezy

Encore:

An Attempt To Tip The Scales
Make War

 

 


 

 

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