Live Review: Villagers with Zach Peterson at DC9, Washington DC – 21 June 2010

By on Thursday, 24th June 2010 at 4:00 pm

I may be turning into a folkie. Or at the very least, I’m much more appreciative and receptive of thoughtful singer/songwriters that play guitar. Conor J. O’Brien, the voice and brains behind Irish outfit Villagers definitely falls into that category. O’Brien sans his backing band played to a respectable-sized crowd at Washington’s DC9 club Monday night.

The opening act was locally-based folk singer/songwriter Zach Peterson. There’s a palpable twangy, country style to his songs. While his voice isn’t as good as O’Brien’s, he had a noisy contingent of mates cheering him on. He was also very humourous, best demonstrated by the last song of his set, ‘the Sarah Palin Song’ (named after the much-maligned former American vice-presidential Republican candidate). I couldn’t tell if he was mocking her or lamenting all the political maiming she’s been through. Check it out on his MySpace and you can decide for yourself.

The stage was still noticeably bare when it was time for Villagers, or rather Conor J. O’Brien and his guitar. He is not large by any means. (He joked that me and my friend in the front we were making him feel short. I tried to make him feel better by saying that my friend was wearing heels, and he said “I’m wearing shoes that make me shorter,” gesturing to his trainers. I responded, “you’re the talent. You wear whatever’s comfortable”, a comment that made him laugh.) This was a small, comfortable gig – if you’re the type that isn’t fidgety when a singer is singing his heart out, emotions pouring out into every song. ‘The Pact (I’ll Be Your Fever)’, my favourite from their #1 album in Ireland, ‘Becoming a Jackal’, was different from the recording, but in such a wonderful way – just O’Brien’s gorgeous voice paired with him playing guitar, simply brilliant. I know the opportunity to see O’Brien this way, by himself in a small club playing to a small audience, probably won’t happen in Britain, so I’m glad I was able to see him like this when I could.

You can watch the artsy new promo vid for ‘Ship of Promises’ below.

After the cut: photos and Villagers set list.


Zach Peterson photos:

Villagers photos:

Villagers Set List
To Be Counted Upon Men
Ship of Promises
Becoming a Jackal
Twenty Seven Strangers
Set the Tigers Free
The Meaning of the Ritual
The Pact (I’ll Be Your Fever)
That Day
Sunlit Stage
Cecelia and Her Selfhood

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