Friday at Moseley Folk Festival 2011 was a sundrenched day of acoustic delights and organic cider, soundtracked by Crystal Fighters, Gruff Rhys, Badly Drawn Boy and Villagers.
The high point was Villagers, the stage name of Irish singer-songwriter Conor O’Brien. As the sun began to set, he and his touring band gave a stirring performance of songs from his Mercury-nominated debut Becoming A Jackal, and previewed several songs which could feature on its follow up, expected next year.
After their hour-long performance, I chatted to Conor about the gig, his year of relentless touring and his plans for following up an acclaimed debut.
“It was a bit of a revelation for us. We've always had exciting shows in Birmingham, a few times in the Glee Club and once in the HMV Institute," he said of the show.
“We weren't necessarily expecting this show to be as good, considering the fact that it was a festival and not all of the audience were there to see us particularly. We were surprised and astounded at the response. A lot of love for Moseley Folk Fest.”
Amongst minimal onstage talk, Conor had announced that the gig was their last UK gig for a while, with just a handful of European dates left to play on the tour.
“I'm writing a new album at the moment. I'm pretty sure I've got the title already. It's just exciting to have the time to write again after all of the madness. I forgot how good it feels to have time to digest,” Conor said.
“I’ve written quite a lot of songs, especially in the last few months,” he revealed, referring back to the new songs the band played, one of which was finished only days before the festival. “I want to make dance music, in the widest possible sense of the term. I'm sort of bored of introspective-sounding music. I'm sure I'll fall in love with it again, but I'm being pulled in a different direction. I think the lyrics will continue up the path but the music is going travelling. I'm listening to a lot of Meters and Allen Toussaint.”
On the question of following up a debut featuring an Ivor Novello winning song, Conor laughed off any notion of pressure.
“I enjoy it. No nerves, no challenge. Just a lot of little self-created challenges,” he said.