Gig review: Conor Oberst (ABC)

Conor Oberst
Conor Oberst

The prodigious and precocious Conor Oberst has released a bewildering array of records since his debut in 1993 at the tender age of 13.

From (most famously) Bright Eyes and Desparecidos, to his work with the Magic Valley Band and drumming side projects, he’s produced a panoply of tunes with impressively high quality control.

He arrives in Glasgow under his own name on the back of his second solo album proper - the country-tinged ‘Upside Down Mountain’ - but was never likely to ignore his plentiful former sobriquets.

A fan-friendly (and tour-ending) set includes a scattering of Bright Eyes tracks and a few real surprises, including a thumping ‘Hit the Switch’ and an encore of the Mystic Valley Band’s ‘Roosevelt Room’.

It’s remarkable how songs that seem so different on record gel together into such a wonderfully-realised set, the common thread being a lo-fi aesthetic and lyrics which started off dark and have now become jet black. “I’m so sick of my life, but I’m still afraid to die”, he spits on ‘Desert Island Questionnaire’ after “raising a toast to the ennui of our times and the selfishness of everyone you know”.

This blistering misanthropy is offset by Oberst’s easy charm and lush melodies and, while some of his softer moments such as ‘First Day of My Life’ and ‘You Are Your Mother’s Child’ are notably absent, there’s still room for some swooning (if damaged) romance in ‘Lua’ - an ode to the home town of New York which shows there’s a soft heart to the hard cynicism.