Villagers at Leeds 2010
The Festival Republic stage at Leeds 2010 felt like a tent equivalent of that mate that always gives you good tip-offs about things you really should listen to. And when you catch a set like the one Villagers put on, you can't help but feel like you've been allowed in on an amazing little secret.
Villagers are an Irish band with the capacity for heart-stopping drama in the performance of some really stunningly beautiful songs. It wasn't a bad turn out, but to be honest you would expect a larger crowd for a band who has had their debut album short-listed for the 2010 Mercury Music Prize... if it weren't for the fact that one Mr Rascal, a fellow nominee, was also playing at that time of the evening on the main stage.
The endearingly vulnerable quality of singer Conor O'Brien's voice does not get weakened under the pressure of live performance, as the steadfast beat of the drum and confidence of the sound of the guitar brings everything together beautifully. The dark themes and lyrics create an atmosphere full of theatre and mystery. Songs like 'Home' and 'Becoming a Jackal', two of the strongest tracks from the album, swathe the intimate crowd with gorgeous wandering melodies and twinkling piano. 'Pieces' was definitely a highlight of the set, with every member of the band pouring their absolute soul into every note being played. The dramatic instrumental thrashing towards the end of the song culminated in vocalist O'Brien howling in a way that sent shivers right through the crowd. Utterly brilliant.