Music: Live Review: Villagers @ The Wardrobe


Conor O’Brien’s Villagers might not strike many people as the most riveting live prospect out there, but after tonight’s performance many will look at the band in a new light.

Right from the beginning they play with a feral kind of energy that renders many of their songs, in particular several newer cuts from recent album {Awayland},almost unrecognisable. For example ‘The Bell’, a track which might be expected to pass an audience by without anyone passing comment, is transformed into a roaring monster which leaves the crowd breathless mid-set. Old favourites ‘The Pact’ and ‘Becoming a Jackal’ draw the biggest reactions of the evening, alongside soaring new single ‘Nothing Arrived’, but the biggest revelation of the set is the raw energy injected into performing these songs.

At the front of the stage O’Brien is not the timid young man you might have once thought him to be, throwing himself headlong into ‘Ship of Promises’ and fixing the audience with a steely gaze throughout. Despite this unexpected power, softer moments such as ‘My Lighthouse’ are still treated with the utmost delicacy, O’Brien’s cracking voice and gently picked guitar silencing every single audience member in the room. O’Brien rarely smiles during the show, so intently focussed on his performance that he looks like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. However when he has finished, the rapturous applause that greets him should make it all worthwhile, as tonight we are reminded that he is one of Britain’s best-kept secrets.



Words: Jake Maiden

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