Artistry and creativity wither in the absence of change. Lucky, then, that Agnes Obel is a master of rearrangement. In what is, by our calculation, Obel's third stage outing for latest album, Citizen of Glass, in London over the past 8 months, the Dane reconfigures the sound of her back catalogue to bring it in line with the somewhat more electronic sensibilities of this most recent release, as well as clothing new songs with richer sonic attire for the live setting.

The Roundhouse, where Obel has appeared once before as part of the 2013 iTunes Festival, proves to be the right venue for an album which benefits from the duality of sounding private and intimate in your headphones but grandiose and climatic when performed with Obel's prodigious, multi-talented band.

Nine out of the ten songs on Citizen of Glass are played tonight, with the title-track opening the set. Obel sings: "Rend a black drop from my heart /with the weight of days / The end of time has just begun /I hear it call your name" against a simple keyboard arrangement and ghostly backing vocals from her stage co-inhabitants. It's a quiet, effective start to the show. Fan-favourite, 'Dorian', from previous album, Aventine, comes next and is the first example of how Obel brings older cuts to the new record's fold. The reinvigorated rhythm section helps in making this one of the evening's best moments.

Another Aventine song, 'Run Cried The Crawling', is performed on an old piano which - Obel marvels - surprisingly continues to soldier on. She reveals to the audience that the composition was written on this piano almost by chance. A few years back Obel explained that she'd written a song called 'Run Cried The Crawling Spider'. It was never finished, but there was something about the title which she really liked, hence adopting an iteration of it. Tonight 'Run Cried The Crawling' sounds delicate and beautiful.

When The 405 spoke to Obel last October she told us that, out of the ten new numbers on Citizen of Glass, the one she was enjoying translating from recorded form to the live performance the most was 'Familiar' (albeit finding it "tricky to play live"). 'Familiar', designed to sound like a duet between Obel and her vocally pitched-down alter-ego, is vehement, sinister and exhilarating and it's clear to see why it was chosen to be the album's big, first single. 'Stretch Your Eyes', the record's opener, is selected to close the pre-encore set and succeeds in matching the energy and thrill of 'Familiar'.

Two other hands-down highlights from the evening come in the form of 'The Curse' - this one seems to get even better with the years - and 'Mary', a song Obel wrote about a secret shared by a close friend.

The evening ends on a double-whammy of Philharmonics classics, 'Riverside' and 'On Powdered Ground'. These are not only staple Obel must-haves but also ones which leave the audience on a soaring high.

Full Setlist:

  • 'Citizen of Glass'
  • 'Dorian'
  • 'It's Happening Again'
  • 'Golden Green'
  • 'Trojan Horses'
  • 'Familiar'
  • 'Solo Piano Instrumental'
  • 'Falling, Catching'
  • 'Philharmonics'
  • 'Fuel to Fire'
  • 'Run Cried the Crawling'
  • 'Red Virgin Soil'
  • 'Mary'
  • 'The Curse'
  • 'Stone'
  • 'Stretch Your Eyes'


  • 'Riverside'
  • 'On Powdered Ground'