The Villagers – Whelans – Review

After all the praise and attention that the Villagers first album generated, it was always going to be a tough one to follow. The difficult second album is a cliché, but more often than not it is true! It’s hard to re-create yourself or step away from what you’re good at to do something new. So, on first listen, what does the new album sound like? Last night in Dublin (Tuesday 13th Nov), all was revealed!

The Villagers returned from a month touring Europe playing support to Grizzly Bear to arrive on familiar ground with a stand alone gig in Whelans. The gig was announced about a month ago and sold out within minutes, so all in the audience felt lucky to be there. There was a feeling of celebration in the air, with a lot of friends and family of the band in the crowd. It was a chance to hear the new album before it is released (Jan 14th) and to see how the band held up to life on the road!

They started with ‘Set the Tigers free’ from the first album just to put the crowd on familiar ground, but as the second and third track arrived and were also from ‘Becoming a Jackal’, I was starting to wonder would we get to hear the new album at all!  From that point on in the night it was largely new tracks, and there seems to be a few gems in there that you’ll hear on radio and TV for a few years to come. The stand out tracks for me included Rhythm Composer and a wonderfully bare version of ‘In a Newfound Land You are free’ as part of the encore. The now familiar singles ‘Passing a message’ and ‘The Waves’ also worked very well live and kept the crowd moving.

While this is the Villagers second album, Conor has released an album previously as part of the Immediate, so maybe I was wrong to worry about the difficult second album. All my fears were nicely put to bed, on a lovely evening in Whelans.

The Villagers play the Olympia on the 21st of March. Set List from last night is below.

Set List:

Set the Tigers Free


The Pact

Grateful Song

Passing A Message

The Bell

Becoming a Jackal

My Lighthouse

Rhythm Composer

The Meaning of the Ritual


Earthly Pleasure

Judgment Call

Nothing Arrived

The Waves

Ship of Promises


That Day

In A New Found Land, You Are Free

On a Sunlit Stage

Categories: Gigs

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