TVD Live: Conor Oberst at Thalia Hall, 11/26

Conor Oberst spent time in Chicago this past weekend for two evenings of intimate performances at Thalia Hall. Joining him Saturday night was singer-songwriter, Anna McClellan.

In Oberst’s words, Anna McClellan is a “secret weapon from Omaha, Nebraska.” The audience was quick to feel her power and be captivated by her haunting voice and playful melodies. She played out heavy repeating chords on the piano while her engaging lyrics and lovely refrain hovered above and took over the room. The room’s energy level rose to a new high when Oberst walked on stage to join McClellan on her song “Fire Flames.” McClellan’s inviting presence kept the crowd quiet and in their seats which is a rare feat for an opening act. Anna McClellan’s current album Fire Flames (which features Oberst on the title track) is available to download.

The crowd was ready for Conor Oberst before he even entered the stage. Within the first notes of his opening song people were already cheering and singing along. Arms went up during favorite lyrics and friends turned to each other to mouth the words during quiet parts. It was a warm welcome. The stage was sparse with only a single bassist to accompany him. Oberst alternated between an old upright piano and his guitar. An assistant sat at a fishbowl shaking out harmonicas in-between songs to pass off to Oberst.

With his trembling voice as he sat hunched over the piano, you could feel the poetics of his lyrics. His harmonica was a popular feature of most songs, eliciting shouts of excitement from the audience. ”This next one is a deranged lullaby,” Oberst explained before going into “Counting Sheep.” Oberst played through his new album and then to the fans’ delight followed it up with an encore of favorites.

Conor Oberst’s recent solo acoustic album was recorded in his hometown, Omaha, Nebraska last winter. Ruminations is currently available on vinyl. Next up for Oberst is two sold out shows in Los Angeles on December 9th and 10th followed by a tour through Europe at the beginning of the upcoming year.

SETLIST
Tachycardia
Gossamer Thin
Barbary Coast (Later)
Counting Sheep
You All Loved Him Once
Next of Kin
The Rain Follows the Plow
A Little Uncanny
Mamah Borthwick (A Sketch)
Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out

ENCORE
Lenders in the Temple
Cap Canaveral
White Shoes
Double Life
Ladder Song
Passing Through (Leonard Cohen Cover)
The Big Picture
At the Bottom of Everything

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