Villagers at Vicar Street, Dublin, December 17th 2013.
It’s rare that a gig comes along where you are left arguing with yourself over what exactly the highlights were. Usually, it’s a pretty straightforward decision. However, for Villagers, this was not at all the case.
Opening with My Lighthouse and Farewell to My Only Friend, the band are on form from the very start. Conor’s voice shows some beautiful versatility, with grizzly lows and clear soaring highs, setting a high standard to be maintained throughout the rest of the show.
And on this, the band never once falters. The Bell follows shortly after. With its contrasting chaotic highs and gentle lulls, this is a well proportioned and managed performance, extremely well balanced even in its larger, louder sections. All this is complimented by the rarest wonder to be found in a Dublin gig – an absolutely silent audience, a mesmerised hush having quickly befallen them. Home is a sentiment to just why they are so entranced by this band. Incredibly well balanced and with perfect tone and pitch throughout, it is a perfect example of just how tight Villagers are live. Listening to this, you could be listening to the recording.
Becoming a Jackel sees the crowd a little more vocal as they take part in one of the softest crowd choruses that Vicar Street has probably ever seen, another sentiment to the respect that Villagers fans have for the band’s music. For Earthly Pleasures, the band gives a passionate and fiery performance, telling a story through their music with animation and real enjoyment. Pieces, however, is about as close as anyone could come to choosing a highlight from the array of musical delicacies on offer tonight. Beginning as a soft and gently sway, it descends into an almost primal experience, with Conor howling into his mic over the chaotic sounds of the band.
The encore sees no let up in quality, with 27 Strangers, I Saw The Dead and Hot, Scary Summer left to affirm our thoughts on this band. Last Christmas (in the season that’s in it) sees the audience let loose a little more, throwing themselves into the spirit along with the band in this little Christmas celebration.
As a live band, these guys are incredibly tight; this performance could be easily compared in quality to their recordings, just proving how professional, well rehearsed and serious Villagers are as a band. It was a privilege simply to have been there.
Villagers Photo Gallery
Photos: Mark Earley