After treating Irish fans to a wonderful solo show on Tuesday night at the NCH, Nebraska's finest Conor Oberst hooked up with the recently reformed Desaparecidos for a short but explosive set at Dublin's The Button Factory on Thursday 7th February. In many ways, their brand of politically charged, post hardcore thrash seems even more relevant in these chaotic times than it did when they first hit the scene. Desaparecidos released one album in 2002, the fantastic 'Read Music/Speak Spanish' before disbanding due to Obersts commitments with Bright Eyes and his solo projects.
2012 saw the release of the MariKKKopa / Backsell E.P., the bands first release in over a decade, and offered some hope that Oberst was ready to dedicate some time to this project. On the evidence of this showing, Desaparecidos could be something more than just a sideline for Oberst –this is a real band that delivered an unbelievably tight, hungry and powerful set for a group that, as Oberst confessed during the show, haven't really rehearsed since last summer. Oberst sings and plays guitar but there is no real sense that he is the star man –pointedly, he does not take centre stage leaving bass player and co-vocalist Landon Hedges out front. Every song from their sole album and last year's E.P. release was greeted like a long lost friend by the fans –scorching versions of 'Man and Wife, The Former (Financial Planning)',' Greater Omaha' and particularly 'Backsell' ignited the audience, who seemed to know every song word for word. Along the way, Oberst took the time to deliver pot shots at the American government, bankers and the state of Nevada but he reserved his most venomous comments for a particular Arizona lawman known for tough anti-immigration stance.
Yes, we have heard this socio-political, agit-punk from other bands in the past, but it is difficult not to be swept up by the full on sonic assault and muscular riffing that underpins every Desaparecidos song. Obersts lyrics express the anger and dissatisfaction at the heart of their music as eloquently as we would expect from a song-writer of his calibre, and the music never resorts to out and out thrash, maintaining a strong melodic thrust throughout. New single 'The Left is Right' got an airing, and it seems that Desaparecidos have no intention of lightening things up any time soon on the evidence of this songs refrain of "If one must die to save the 99/ Maybe it's justified". The band threw in a cover of 'Spanish Bombs' by the Clash to round off proceedings in a set that clocked in at under an hour with no encore.
Let's hope there is more to come from Desaparecidos - this was live music at its incendiary best.
Review by Paul Page