On June 5th Bright Eyes played the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver for what many fans thought would be their last Colorado appearance. In a Rolling Stone interview front-man Conor Oberst stated “It does feel like it needs to stop at some point. I’d like to clean it up, lock the door, say goodbye,” leading the music community to believe the band would call it quits following the tour for 2011’s The Peoples Key. Within a few weeks they had announced a second Colorado date, this time at the Boulder Theater, and Oberst, when asked about the quote, said the group had no immediate plans to disband.
Tuesday night the band was welcomed back to CO with open arms. There was no “Firewall” (with accompanying spoken word intro) opener as there was in Denver. The first track from the new record sat this show out entirely, though there was a healthy helping of the new tunes including “Jejune Stars,” “Ladder Song,” “Shell Games” and “One for You, One for Me.”
Opening with “Old Soul Song (For the New World Order)” and “Another Travelin’ Song,” both from I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, they locked in the audience for the evening, followed by a sure-shot, high energy “Four Winds” for good measure.
Everyone from the teenage girls (who occupied the bulk of the front row real estate) to the thirty somethings and beyond got their wish-lists fulfilled. “Lover I Don’t Have to Love,” “Bowl of Oranges,” “Gold Mine Gutted,” “Cartoon Blues” and “Landlocked Blues” came together to rep the bulk of their catalog.
Oberst was joined on vocals by the lovely and talented Laura Burhenn for a cover of Gillian Welch’s “Wrecking Ball” against a beautiful back drop of acoustic guitar, keys and pedal steel. “This one goes out to any vagabonds in the audience,” said Oberst as Nate Walcott pulled out the trumpet for “We Are Nowhere and It’s Now.”
Although the band requested two security guards at both corners of the stage to fend off potential stage crashing groupies, Oberst spent plenty of time giving love to the audience in the form of hugs, handshakes and a crowd surfing foray during the encore. His humorous, long winded band intro romantically praised his comrades and showed how truly grateful he was to be up on stage doing his thing.
Bright Eyes are at their peak, both in terms of songwriting, production and passion in their live shows. Whether Oberst is alone on stage under a spotlight singing “First Day of My Life,” or joined by his band mates (and members of the opening band, Conduits) in a full on throwdown of “Road to Joy” in all it’s drum-thumping rhythmic glory, their shit was tight. It would almost be a sin to see them hang things up at this point in their career.