He is no longer the shambling shaman of his alcohol-driven youth, but a confident bandleader whose vision is both musically and lyrically focused. Two recent additions to the band, guitarist Jake Bellows from Neva Dinova and trumpet/ keyboardist Nate Walcott, contribute to the band's new sound.
They opened strongly with two new songs. "I Must Belong Somewhere" was a march of angst and protest, with Oberst carefully enunciating lyrics on the order of "Leave the hot, bright trash in the shopping malls / Leave the hawks of war in their capital /Let the organ's moan in the cathedral remain." The song was a "La Marseillaise" for today's downtrodden and disaffected rebels. "Cartoon Blues" followed. Although it was lyrically weaker, the pace was maintained with Clash-like guitar breaks.
Other new songs included "Soul Singer in a Session Band," with lyrics, melody, arrangement and delivery a little too reminiscent of The Pogues. "Re-Invent the Wheel" was a brilliant kiss-off song, ending in the memorable line, "I hope I see you soon in some other form."
Older material included two songs from "One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels," an EP made with Neva Divona in 2004, with "I'll Be Your Friend" giving the nod to the horn-driven sound of Elvis Costello's "Punch the Clock" period.
Three songs from 2005's "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" were the crowd-pleasers. Oberst introduced "Old Soul Song (for the new world order)" as "a protest song written four years ago which is disheartening to sing today, as the government still refuses to be honest with the public about their motives for the Iraq war."
The set was brought to a cacophonous close with a spirited and brash version of "Make War," from 2002's "Lifted."
LP / CD / MP3
LP / Deluxe LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3