A very enthusiastic crowd, eager to hear how his two latest albums would translate to the stage, welcomed Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band on Monday at The Blue Note.
Conor's name appears before the rest of the band, but this does not translate to a one-man show. Multiple members of the band took lead vocal duties and every member of the band was more than capable of taking center stage. The music hit quick and loud, some sort of hybrid between electric Dylan and rockabilly blues. Heavy and concise guitars solos were amidst the ever-catchy choruses sung by Oberst, often with a little help from the crowd.
If there was a theme to the show it was definitely life on the road, the chorus, "There's nothing that the road cannot heal," from the song "Moab" became the sing-a-long song of the night. Conor and his Mystic Valley comrades were able to play a set that painted vivid pictures of desolate towns and women of their past.
The music stayed at a very high tempo the whole evening, with Oberst seeming very content with his new band, jumping around on stage and helping describe many songs with hand gestures in between his work on the acoustic and electric guitars.
One of the evening's slower songs "Ten Women," from Oberst's latest release, came along mid-set and gave everyone a chance to see the front man's skills as a songwriter. The opening lines seemed to set the crowd into silence as they watched one of the best songwriters in recent memory. The slow pace of "Ten Women" was quickly uprooted and the show kicked back into high gear with songs like "Slowly (Oh So Slowly)" and "Air Mattress" from the album Outer South.
Oberst was able to keep The Blue Note crowd on its feet, and each song seemed to get a louder applause than the last. The true Oberst fans, dating back to the early years of former outfit Bright Eyes, lapped up the folk rhythms with drums and guitars driving the band musically.
During some stage banter, Oberst stated he was glad to be back in Columbia and to quote the night's opening song "To All The Lights in the Windows," "Yeah that's the thing about charisma/It makes everyone believe." Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band's charisma surely left The Blue Note crowd believers.