Agnes Obel at Vicar Street – Review


agnes-obelAgnes Obel at Vicar Street 24th October 2013

Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel and the Aventine album (2013) tour played to an excited and full seated house at Vicar Street last Wednesday night. The renowned pianist from Copenhagen, along with her talented accompanying musicians, has embarked on a European tour to the deepest of praise so far. Her audience of fans and admirers were enveloped in darkness while they waited with bated breath while the minimal and striking guitarist and singer Erin Lang of Feral & Stray, naturally performed and moved from Fender to bass, her delicate songs created a strong reaction. She realises a new album ‘Between You and The Sea’ in November 2013.

Obel who has two albums, Philharmonics (2010) and Aventine (2013), both are major successes for the artist in Denmark and across Europe. Comparisons cited have ranged from Ane Brun to PJ Harvey, with influences from Jan Johannsen and Claude Debussy amongst many classical, folk and modern contemporary peers.

Darkness surrounded us, Agnes Obel and her esteemed musicians and vocalists Anne Müller (cello/vocal) and Mika Posen (violin/vocal) slipped out onto the stage and quietly positioned themselves at their instruments and Obel at her piano and loop recorder, under ambient lighting. Opening with ‘Louretta’, they performed this beautiful composition combined with very subtle harmonies. Afterwards, ‘Philharmonics’ a fascinating song, along with its swirling keys emphasised Obels’ refined natural vocal and poetic craft – ‘Speaking fire, He would hire,  Pawns and peasants, Just like me, To feed upon the conquered ones, But now we are free.’

‘Beast’ a beautiful creature of a song, with its relaxed yet complex pacing on the chorus – ‘Let’s go tonight, let the beast run a mile, with the dogs and the cattle, let’s go’, combined with interesting strings and plucking. ‘On Powdered Ground’ from Philharmonics (2010) was simply mesmerising and Victorian in style, a song we did not want to end and received marvelous cheers afterwards. ‘Chord Left’ lightly drew pictures of undiscovered aged worlds in our minds, quite haunting.

Before ‘Aventine’, she requested a woolen scarf from the audience – once received she placed the material into her piano, testing the new sound and keys. She told us she was used to a different type of wool, but it would have to do. They commenced with knocking their instruments, while Obel recorded transformed into looping accompaniment.  ‘Aventine’ was well constructed and captivating.

‘Dorian’ showed us another more attractive, husky side to her vocal and her lyrics masterly, and particularly visual – ‘Dorian, carry on, Will you come along to the end, Will you ever let us carry on, Swaying like the children, Singled out for praise, The inside out on the open, With the straightest face.’  Obel then played a stunning rendition of ‘Wallflower’, and  the beautiful song ‘Riverside’ she dedicated to us grateful Dubliners. ‘Run Cried the Crawling’ she moved us to immense praise and delighted the crowd.

Obel told us that during previous gigs in Dublin that she had been heckled, what a shame they underestimated her, and then she moved on to perform her final song ‘The Curse’ – let those hecklers be damned, we thought it was like delicious magic to our ears.

Ending to standing ovations she exited the stage to cheers and a person shouting “Give me my scarf back”, which was really funny. Obel and her talent crew returned for an encore, oblivious to the scarf request and said that she was going to play a song “about having a good time when alone”. Suddenly realising what she had said, she no longer could play the intended song due to uncontrollable laughter.

She instead requested a song from the audience and played ‘Katie Cruel’ ending on a powerful, magnificent note. Whether that person would ever got their scarf back, is anyone’s guess? Obel is a young master in her life time, her poignant and cinematic compositions left an indelible mark on us all.

 Review by Áine Byrne

Set list for the night:

  • Louretta
  • Philharmonics
  • Beast
  • On Powdered Ground
  • Chord Left
  • Aventine
  • Dorian
  • Wallflower
  • Riverside
  • Run Cried the Crawling
  • Word are Dead
  • The Curse
  • Katie Cruel (encore)


Lucy Ivan

comments to this article