Bright Eyes songsmith, the spokesperson for America's sensitive side, summons up the courage to meet his British fans…

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Bright Eyes : WC1 ULU, Wednesday Nov 17

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Bright Eyes : WC1 ULU, Wednesday Nov 17

If Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes) wasn’t an atheist before recent political events in the US then you can be damn sure he is one now. Tonight, Oberst performs a song that he wrote earlier that day, entitled ‘When The President Talks To God’ – a transcript of George W Bush and a beardy dude called The Lord discussing life and corruption, God eventually transpiring to be a mere voice in the word-jumbling tyrant’s head. Tonight’s show is full of irreligious references – kinda funny considering that the audience are happy to worship at the church of Bright Eyes.

Take opener ‘Lua’: such is the hushed reverence among the congregated misfits that people hardly dare breathe, let alone chat about fumbled sexual congress with the Kings Of Leon . In fact, the only sound above Conor’s acoustic guitar and half-broken impassioned voice is the odd mouth miming silently along.

It’s pretty clear why Bright Eyes fans see Oberst as the Dylan-esque Holy Grail of this generation. His lyrics, which spurt out like stream-of-consciousness diary extracts are all devastating stuff for these sensitive souls. And his recent gatecrash of the US Billboard chart (Number One! And Number Two! Simultaneously!) proves that people outside this dark bunker of fans are taking notice.

In Conor’s world, everything is there to be challenged – whether he is nothing but a mediocre musician ( ‘Waste Of Paint’), whether we can ever be free of apathy, or whether tomorrow he will be brave enough to go outside – the kind of agoraphobic angst that resonates with his fans. Because as we’ve said, Conor’s fey disciples aren’t the lairiest bunch of folk. Filing out of this place of worship (just in time to avoid having to donate to the collection, no doubt) most of them probably go straight home to spend the rest of the year quaking under their duvet. But at least they can be safe in the knowledge that, with Conor around, there’s a little less reason to be afraid of the world.


Cat Goodwin