I don't think I'll ever forget the moment Conor J O'Brien stooped down to whisper in the ear of the security guy standing beside me. Even though I moved, being the awkward little ninny that I am, he was inches from my face. I thought about touching him. But that might have been weird. I just tangled Martha's leg in ecstasy instead (thanks for that babez).
Conor needn't have pyhsically touched me, though (although it would have been nice). Clichéd as it may seem, the guy's got talent. Tangible, moving, harrowing but beautiful bucketloads of it.
I've left gigs before wishing the performers had spoken more with the crowd during the show - but Villagers are no ordinary group. When the brilliant Mr O'Brien did speak, it was really funny and good-humoured, which was kind of surprising seeing as the man pours his whole being into every song. But the songs really said it all.
I saw a bird-like tuft of hair off stage and my lungs nearly collapsed. He walked out, picked up his tiny ukelele/guitar, somehow made infinitely cooler with black tape that would look blasphemous on any other instrument. He played 'Twenty Seven Strangers' on his own, slower than the album version. He bounced to push his syrupy voice from belt to falsetto.
Then the band came on AND BOIZ WHAT A BAND. Seriously, if Aiden Grimshaw was too intense for the X Factor, these dudes could send the whole Great British public into heart failure with one number. The bassist moved around like an underwater gazelle. Keyboard Man's expressions made me well up. The whole band moved as if in syncronised slow-motion. And then suddenly Conor would start to scream and eerie chaos would ensue.
Excited fans shouted "GO ON CONOR, YA MADMAN" and "CAN I'VE YAR CHRISTMAS JUMPER?".
Conor asked why "all these people" were there... Not just those slightly odd people; it seemed like he wasn't quite accustomed yet to all these people standing in front of him having paid to see him and singing along to his songs. He said they had played Cork before 'but not like this'. His incredulity is hard to believe when you're standing less than a metre away from him as he sings one heart-wrenching line after another. I couldn't help but wonder what he expected when he decided to record the songs he had been touring. Do people really need to listen to 'To Be Counted Among Men' 50 times before they fall in love with it?
In fact, I think the best might really be to come from the valiant Villagers. Hearing the really amazing songs from 'Becoming a Jackal' was exhilarating enough, but the new songs literally took my breath away. The lyrics, the chords, the emotion... and they do that day after day! It kind of makes me sore...
For fear of repeating myself, I'll steal Conor J's take on this one:
"In the carnival is a sunlit stage
Never in the dark of a morning failed
Your own audience will decide your fate
In a carnival on a sunlit stage."