Going to see a band live can be a surprise and delight at the best of times. It’s what music fans live for. For Camera Obscura tonight, the biggest surprise was that the 800 or so capacity venue in Dublin was JAMMED for their show. Fully booked. State could only imagine what the view was like for those at the back of the class such was the push and shove to get a view of the band tonight.
Glasgow’s Camera Obscura know their stock very well and they are very good at delivering it. Their brand of winsome, sweeping ’60s folk country ditties are songs for the lonesome or the dramatics amongst us, which seems like plenty tonight. There’s the girl in the corner of the venue, near the speakers, dancing in the dark – swaying and bobbing along oblivious to the other guys dancing with their gals nearby who are equally entralled by the pretty big screen ballads on show.
The songs are all lovely and nice, switching between lovelorn and windswept hysterics in equal measure. They are comforting, love-locked and bare for all to see – singer Traceyanne is plain as day in her lyrics for anyone willing to care enough – there is heartbreak and love lost all over the shop but celebrated in such a way that it clearly connects with a packed crowd who know all the words up the front, lost in a heady oblivion that only matters of the heart can recognise. The thick Scotch brogue in even more pronounced than on record, as is the lap-steel guitar with their best and most recent album My Maudlin Career getting the most airplay as expected. ‘Swans’ is as sweet as on the album with a six-strong band giving it the required bittersweet gravitas, ‘Forest and Sands’ with its lyrical reference to ‘if the blood pumping through my veins could freeze like a river in Toronto then I’d be pleased’ is an unexpected joy while the clear crowd highlight was from Let’s Get Out Of the Country in the form of their relative (and great) hit single ‘Lloyd I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken’.
For all the niceities though, it’s hard to repress the feelings that unless you know the words, these tunes are indistinguishable after a while. It’s about 50 minutes in when the entire audience let themselves go in dancing abandon that you feel the band really shine. Still, much of the material fails to differentiate itself but, hey, nobody is complaining. It’s the last night of the tour and the band and audience are enjoying themselves enough (not before admitting that the gig was almost cancelled no thanks to Tracyanne’s impending cold) at 10pm on a Thursday night, that it almost feels impolite to complain. For State’s money though, the band are on reflection, far superior on record.