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Villagers

There wasn’t much to describe Conor O’Brien. He’s short, with blue eyes, a disarmingly sincere smile, with a small hooded sweatshirt, his address taped to his guitar case, lyrics written in marker at the bottom of the same. And this short Irishman would be playing tonight, alone, in the enormous Queen Elisabeth Hall. So be it…

This London neighbourhood was as foreign to him as it was to us. Concrete quays larger than the human scale, where a small bit of life was attempted by a couple of peddlers and a group of skaters. Conor was the quietest, the most adorable of the boys. It seemed as if nothing could faze him. He walked with us, smiled, ready to believe us when we explained that we were bringing him to a beach.

The beach was narrow, minute, a little dirty, uncomfortable, liberated by who knows what movement of the tides, bordered by moss-covered piers. The beach was so small that the tiny waves rolling onto shore seemed menacing, so small that it wouldn’t exist ten minutes later.

Conor went down, and from the moment he started his song, he took ten years, disarming us with his inverse sincerity, an intense sincerity, as natural as the easygoing kindness which preceded it. This boy could sing, because he knew how to live through his songs. This small makeshift beach became a desert island, revealed to host a boy and his song.

Translated by Tara Dominguez