Kevin Winter, Getty Images T.I. and Lil Wayne are teaming up once again, only this…
- Posted on Sep 15th 2009 5:07PM by Stephen Dowling
Okkervil River had it on a murky Monday night in London, after a first half which saw guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo spend more time fiddling with her amp and cables than she did caressing the frets and frontman Will Sheff try and lead the Austin, Texas outfit out of the mire. In the capital after playing the End of the Road festival, this was a one-off gig before an Israeli show and a return to American shores. So far, so frustrating.
And then it happened. During 'The Lost Coastlines,' the band's lyrical ode to the uncertainty of life and where it takes us, Sheff and company cracked it. The loud and lusty "la-la, la-la-la-la" singalong at the song's foam-flecked end paved the way for 'Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe', the cinema-referencing opener to 2007's gem 'The Stage Names'. The six-strong band walked that oh-so-rare tightrope between discipline and abandon, their earlier problems forgotten. A bearded, wild-eyed Sheff padded away from the microphone as the band brought the music to a barely audible throb behind him, singing "it's just a house burning/ but it's not haunted" to a stark and silent room.
A revitalised band grabbed 'Unless it's Kicks' and turned it into a ragged slab of rollicking Americana, swerving and swooning like Wilco at their punchdrunk best. For an encore, Sheff took to the stage alone for 'Plus Ones', a song with a dizzyingly brilliant lyrical conceit which had every record-collecting fan in the room grinning like a fool.
Sometimes a little suffering makes the success that bit sweeter.