I’d seen Villagers at last year’s Latitude Festival so I was obviously expecting good things before this show. What I was most intrigued about the most was what the audience would be like in this smaller venue. You can imagine my obvious relief when I walked in to see that the audience weren’t all under fifteen, and there wasn’t a row of nervous looking daddies at the back.
Supporting was Michele Stodart, who came across surprisingly shy considering her previous fame with The Magic Numbers. The set was interesting on the eye, with an accordian-like instrument to the right and a xylophone to the left, played by band members in suits contributing to a mix of both mellow and more heavy songs.
After a bit of a long wait and what looked like a bit of technical difficulty, Villagers front man Conor O’Brien walks on alone and starts singing ‘Cecilia And Her Selfhood’ before he’s even introduced himself. The audience became silent immediately and clung on to his every word, realising that this intimate venue is the exact atmosphere that his voice demands.
During the first few songs, band members joined him gradually until a full band was formed for song four, ‘The Meaning Of The Ritual’, remaining on stage for the duration of the gig, although my eyes rarely strayed from Conor and the delicate stories he told in his softly spoken voice.
They go through all of the songs on the album Becoming A Jackal, and only when the album title track was played did the audience dare to sing along and break their silence. The band returned for a three-song encore and ended on the atmospheric ‘On A Sunlit Stage’, sounding like a Lion King soundtrack/Simon and Garfunkel mash up which worked perfectly.
Great gig, great venue. Villagers are a must-see at this year’s summer festivals before they become mega famous.