Concert Review: Bright Eyes ends its decade-long hiatus with a stunning performance

Bright Eyes playing at Corona Theater. MARIEKE GLORIEUX-STRYCKMAN/THE CONCORDIAN

The band played in Montreal last week, in one of the last performances of their 2022 tour

The indie rock band Bright Eyes is on its first tour in nine years. Their show in Montreal last week did not disappoint their patient fans.

Bright Eyes went on a hiatus in 2011, after lead singer Conor Oberst announced that they would be retiring the band. However, in 2020, they released new music and started preparing for a world tour. The tour had to be postponed to the summer of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After years of waiting, Bright Eyes’ return delighted their Montreal fans.

The opener of the show was Hurray for the Riff Raff, a band created by singer-songwriter Alynda Mariposa Segarra. The songs were beautifully written for the singer’s range, and the style fit perfectly with the rest of the show. Segarra had a nice stage presence, and effortlessly filled the space with their dancing. They brought that same energy when they joined Oberst for the vocals of a song later in the show. The band looked like they were having fun together, and it translated into their music. 

While it took Bright Eyes almost an hour to set up after Hurray for the Riff Raff, their performance was well worth the wait. 

Oberst sang beautifully. His unique, raspy, vulnerable and expressive voice sounded just as good as it did years ago. He perfectly portrayed the emotions of Bright Eyes’ often sad and cynical songs. 

Oberst’s delightful eccentricities entertained the crowd throughout the night. From introducing the audience to the band’s wolf plushie “Wolfy” to revealing his “Conor Oberst Ruined My Life” t-shirt, the singer let his fun-loving personality shine through between the songs. He often got sidetracked while introducing the pieces, and the concert became “The Conor Show” as he told stories about his life and the band. 

The entire band’s chemistry was very warm and inviting. Any listener could see that they loved playing together. The spotlight switched from the vocal line to a trumpet solo, a piano improvisation, or a new violin line. Oberst moved around the stage to play one-on-one with different members of the band, or to listen more closely when he wasn’t singing. 

“First Day of My Life,” one of Bright Eyes’ most well-known songs, was a moment of contrast in the night. Most of the band sat down, leaving only Oberst on the guitar and vocals, Mike Mogis on the mandolin, and the violinist. A new violin line had been added to the song, and it complemented it perfectly without ruining its soft atmosphere. 

During the last song, Oberst and the backup singer danced and sang together at the centre of the stage, and Oberst gave her the mic to finish off the song. 

Photo by Marieke Glorieux-Stryckman

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