Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band Channel Rock Icons in Seattle

July 31, 2008 12:49 PM ET

"There's nothing that the road cannot heal," goes a line from "Moab," the lead song from last night's Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band tour opener at Seattle's Neumo's. In Oberst's case, it might be true: He appeared more lucid and vital than ever. Maybe it was the intimate setting, but Oberst seemed to have allayed his demons and arrived at some of his strongest songs to date.

Backed by a loose-but-tight five-piece band, Oberst and crew ran through every song from their upcoming eponymous album. They took cues from Americana icons like the Heartbreakers and the Band, often letting longtime Bright Eyes member Nate Walcott lead on churchlike organ while coloring the spaces with a three-guitar palette.

Aside from a few squealing declarations of love, the crowd maintained a reverential silence throughout the hour-and-a-half set, soaking up the new material as willingly as the band played it. Highlights came mid-show with heartwrenching slow burners "Cape Canaveral" and "Danny Callahan" and later on with the barroom sing-along "I Don't Wanna Die (in the Hospital)." Oberst dueted with Walcott on "Lenders in the Temple;" later he did the same with guitarist Nik Freitas on "Gotta Reason #2." They closed with the tender "Milk Thistle" before returning for a four-song encore that included a song led by Freitas and "Corina, Corina," an ageless folk-blues standard played by everyone from Bob Wills to Taj Mahal to Bob Dylan.

Set List

"Cape Canaveral"
"Danny Callahan"
"Gentleman's Pact" (AKA "Smoke Signals")
"Lenders in the Temple"
"NYCâ€"Gone, Gone"
"Souled Out!!!"
"Gotta Reason #2"
"Synesthete Song"
"I Don't Want to Die (in the Hospital)"
"Milk Thistle"

"Eagle on a Pole"
"Corina, Corina" (blues standard)
Unknown song led by guitarist Nik Freitas

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »