Reviews

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Author: Linda Laban
01/25/2005 | Boston Herald | Live Show Preview
Conor Oberst does not do things by halves. Be it touring with an 18-piece orchestra or coining a lofty CD title, the 24-year-old Nebraskan known as Bright Eyes doesn't tow anyone's line. Just his own.
Today, he will simultaneously release two CDs: one Americana, ``I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning''; one electronica,``Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.'' And for each CD, Bright Eyes will perform separate tours.
The first, touting songs from ``Wide Awake,'' kicked off Jan. 14 in hometown Omaha, then headed through the Midwest to Chicago and through Canada, before pulling into Cambridge last night for a gorgeous-sounding performance at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre.
With a six-piece backing band that included Bright Eyes producer and usual band member Mike Mogis adding pedal steel, mandolin and guitar, admittedly Oberst took to the stage late. But once he got started, he whipped up the stormy songs of ``Wide Awake,'' which had more instrumental dynamic live.
The first three numbers fell as they do on the CD: ``At the Bottom of Everything'' saw Oberst strumming an acoustic guitar, his voice engagingly faltering but big and determined; ``We Are Nowhere and It's Now'' was decked out with a lovely horn line; while ``Old Soul Song'' saw that horn united with pedal steel, as Oberst took up a throaty electric guitar, thrashing at it and letting out his familiar scream, a noise full of earthly pain.
``Train Under Water,'' Oberst's New York song, saw him swap back to an acoustic, but eventually all instruments were stilled for a dramatic solo voice passage.
The elfin talent moved to keyboards for the 2002 song ``Loose Leaves.''
Sadly, deadline loomed as his setlist promised a dip to the breakthrough album ``Lifted'' 's ``Method Acting,'' along with several more songs from ``Wide Awake.''
``It's cool playing here,'' he had said a few songs into the set. ``It's the only way any of us would have gotten here.'' Bright Eyes, dramatic perhaps, but ever the realist.


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