The sun shone on Marlay Park on Saturday. This created the perfect setting for an evening headlined by Conor J. O’Brien’s Villagers. The atmosphere was not unlike that of a mini-Electric Picnic without having to suffer the indignity of camping in muck for 3 days.
Lisa O’Neill began the proceedings, her quirky charm and talented band winning many new fans from those present. Stornoway performed a stirring set in their anthemic style.
The main support were hype-band of the moment Beach House. Their dirty indie sound suited the heat. They remarked that of all the times that they have played in Dublin, this tented affair in Rathfarnham had been by far the nicest weather-wise and joked that they would cover Justin Bieber before playing one of their own songs. Overall, they did not bring much energy to proceedings. A better pairing to the evening mood would’ve been a band like Best Coast.
Villagers took to the stage at nine o’ clock sharp. From the start of the set it was clear that the audience was full of rabid fans determined to enjoy themselves. As a front man, Conor is very cute. He opens the show by asking quietly: ‘Is everyone okay?’ The hits came thick and fast. Despite the content of the songs often being sad, the performance was exuberant. The intriguing disc-shaped lights behind the band were used to particularly great effect. Villagers’ live show moves between emotive ballads and thrashy indie. The highlights of the evening included the contemplative ‘27 Strangers,’ and closer ‘Ship of Promises.’
It’s always interesting when an artist decides to alter the melody slightly whilst singing their hits. Most amusingly, the opening song of the encore, ‘That Day,’ was sung in an off-kilter way which the audience could only join in snatches. O’Brien seems like an artist who likes to entertain but only on his own terms. Villagers revelled as much as the audience and it was a concert to remember for all in attendance.
By Gillian Middleton.