08.08.11 Words by: Charlie Jones

Conor O’Brien always delivers performances which are gripping, and which he is gripped by; wholly inside his music, he sings even away from the mic, exuding every pulse of the rhythm in his movements. The “*Villagers*”: set at Field Day exemplified this.

In a performance offset by the sunshine, his set was sparkling and fresh – tracks like I Saw the Dead took on a new lightness which he revelled in, sitting with crossed legs and playfully relishing the syllables of his lyrics. Pre-album track The Bell shone as an example of O’Brien’s gutsy song-writing – frankly and bluntly poetic, lines like “tell me why this failure is making you smile” lingered meaningfully over the addictive hook of the chorus, chanted in the backing vocals.

Swelling and escalating, this set was one full of O’Brien’s most powerful songs, and so rightfully ended with the insistent Ship of Promises , a wave which crashed over the audience’s heads. Fizzling with energy in a framework of sun, the performance was all punchy lyrics, guitar-wielding climaxes and cross-legged charm; a Saturday afternoon snapshot of all that makes O’Brien a brilliant performer.

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