LIVE: The Lone Bellow @ The Egg, 7/10/15
Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by L.R. Durocher
Following earlier performances this year at MASS MoCA in North Adams and the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival, the Lone Bellow finally made their Albany concert debut at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, and it was sublime.
Lead vocalist-guitarist Zach Williams, lead guitarist Brian Elmquist and mandolinist-keyboardist Kanene Donehey Pipkin opened the show with the almost a cappella “I Let You Go,” accompanied only by a single, nearly inaudible (on purpose) acoustic guitar that showcased the trio’s truly heavenly vocal harmonies.
They could have played the whole concert in that fashion, and few in the crowd would have complained. But after a couple of more songs as a threesome, they brought out their rhythm section, adding considerable heft and drive to the remainder of the show, especially the chugging “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold.”
It was almost as though they were two different bands – a hushed, intimate folk trio and a rollicking, free-wheelin’ folk-rock quintet. And both bands were mighty, mighty fine.
Midway through the show, the Brooklyn-based band reverted to the trio format, stepped off stage and walked halfway up the center aisle to launch into a spine-tingling rendition of the gospelesque “Watch Over Us,” with Elmquist taking over the lead vocal chores with excellent results.
After wrapping up the show proper, the crowd – which had already showered the band with several mid-show standing ovations – wasn’t about to let the band go home just yet. The trio returned to the stage, launching into Paul Simon’s “Slip Sliding Away,” Pipkin’s soaring vocals imbuing the song with a deeply spiritual gospel fervor that Simon’s original only hinted at.
Tim Mack’s review and photograph at Metroland
Bryan Lasky’s review and photographs at NYS Music
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “The Lone Bellow opened their show Friday night at The Egg’s Swyer Theater in a bold way. The three members sang a cappella ‘I Let You Go’ a few feet away from one microphone. The harmonies were soft, slow and delicate. No room for a mistake here. Without warming up themselves or the crowd, it was a brave way to start the show. They followed this format for the second tune, though the song had more pace and energy. Halfway through this one, Brian Elmquist stopped the tune due to a mistake he made. Rather than cover it up, he laughed, apologized, and launched back into it. It is always nice to see a genuine moment, and a band not afraid to show they are human. The audience was theirs from that point on. Zach Williams led the show, singing most leads. He occasionally moved more like an American Idol contender than a roots-grounded singer: He bent over for the big notes, waved his hand above his head during a long note, held his chest at one point for added drama. Many of the tunes played like a soundtrack to a quality 20-something romance movie. There were a few great sad ones, like ‘Marietta,’ with the line, ‘the loneliness burned through your door,’ and ‘If You Don’t Love Me (then let me go).'”
THE LONE BELLOW SET LIST
I Let You Go (trio)
Jessica? (new song) (trio)
You Can Be All Kinds of Emotional (trio)
Cold as It Is
Then Came the Morning
Take My Love
If You Don’t Love Me
Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold
Call to War
Tree to Grow
Teach Me to Know
You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To
Watch Over Us (trio in theater)
You Never Need Nobody
The One You Should’ve Let Go
Slip Sliding Away (Paul Simon)