Disclaimer: I don’t review shows like most reviewers. For me, music—and the experience—is all about being in the moment. The technical side of a live show is the least important part of me being front and center at a concert. Whether it’s an amphitheater or a living room, I want to feel something, and last night in Somerville, Massachusetts, I felt a lot.
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I ventured into a venue filled with like-minded music lovers and rediscovered my passion for live gigs. It has been nearly three years since I stepped foot in front of a stage, and while I never doubted my affection for being present at a show, last evening I was reminded why art in real time is such a gift.
First up on the bill was Robert Ellis. Ellis and his Texas Piano Man helped me ride out the earliest days of the pandemic, and as a producer, he was the guy behind the board lending a creative assist on Jamestown Revival’s latest album Young Man. With just a keyboard and ample eye glitter, Ellis delivered a four-song set, conjuring an emotional response out of this out-of-practice concertgoer. As someone dealing with an aging father in declining health, it was impossible not to cling to the connective tissue of Ellis’ stripped-down “Father” and his plea for silence as he performed it for the sold-out house. As my disclaimer warned, I highlight the feelings that music invokes, and from the start of this one I was invested in the journey.
North Carolina’s Mipso was up next, and they wasted no time bringing everyone in the theater into their tight-knit fold. Less concert than intimate listening party, the quartet spent most of their time on stage reacquainting people to their self-titled 2020 release. The shared vocals and layered, complementary harmonies were an ever-present companion, but it was their presentations of “Caroline” and “Louise” that made the capacity crowd sync up and take on a community vibe. (And in our current societal state of things, community is something we could all use a daily dose of.)
Joined on stage by Ellis and his guitar playing, Jamestown Revival spent the latter half of the evening churning through their Young Man album’s front-to-back track listing, while also saving time at the end of their set to drop in some back catalog favorites. Lifelong friends Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay are the face of Jamestown Revival, but this is a band that has been through thick and thin together and plays like family. Young Man is an extraordinary record that doubles as a soothing balm on your soul, and somehow they managed to retain that comforting quietness in a venue with cathedral ceilings that seats 900 people. From “Coyote” to “Old Man Looking Back,” the entirety of the performance put ear-to-ear smiles on the faces they looked out on, and while Clay made it a point to express his gratitude for being so warmly welcomed to the Boston area, it is this reviewer who is grateful to have been reminded that a night of live music can do more to inspire and entertain than any Netflix night-in could ever achieve.
To read my recent interview with Jamestown Revival, click here.
Find their tour schedule here: https://jamestownrevival.com/#tour-dates