By Brooke Moody–
As rain poured down, thunder cracked overhead and time drew near for doors opening, I was surprised by the sheer number of people who had fared the weather and were in line behind me.
Waiting outside of Headliners Music Hall, I was getting antsy for the show that had been three months in the making. Anderson East was finally going to perform in Louisville after his show originally scheduled for Jan. 28th was cancelled due to snow.
When the doors finally opened, East’s most loyal fans rushed to gather at the edge of the stage. Seasoned concert goers grabbed bar stools around the edge of the room or headed upstairs for a better view of the show and the crowd. My friend and I joined them on the balcony.
Smokey air and the lights from the stage and bar dimly-lit the room to show off the art deco walls and exposed brick. The atmosphere was perfect for the blues, soul-filled show I was about to hear.
The floor below us was packed by the time Andrew Combs, the show’s opener, took the stage.
The five-piece band from Nashville got the crowd swaying with their modern Americana. They began playing songs mostly unknown to the crowd, but by the time they finished their last song everyone in the audience had gotten into the set. Combs even got the audience singing along to the chorus “E-m-i-l-y, why why, tell me Emily.”
After his performance, I talked with Combs and asked him about the show.
“I thought it went well. It’s always fun,” he said in regard to playing Headliners for the second time. He previously performed there with Houndmouth.
Finally, East took the stage and immediately turned up the energy, starting the set with his upbeat “Find ‘Em, Fool ‘Em, Forget ‘Em.” The sax and trumpet animated the audience. Everyone was dancing and singing along.
The song finished, and with an accent straight out of Alabama, East said, “I hope you brought your dancing shoes and positive attitude, because we are about to have some fun tonight.”
The room shook as people cheered. East knew how to make a one-room crowd sound like it filled a stadium.
Unlike most of the people in the room, I had not heard of East before first hearing about his show back in January. So I had spent the past few months preparing for this night by educating myself on his southern gospel meets classic rock sound.
East, a preacher’s son born and raised in Alabama, crafted a sound from his roots while the electric guitar and bass added both rock and blues tones. What made the show unique, though, was his voice. East could hold deep and soulful notes that send chills down your spine. He didn’t sing lyrics—he brought them to life on the stage.
Partway through the set, the rest of the band left the stage and East was the only one standing on the stage. His voice and acoustic guitar had the crowd in a hush.
The night continued as East and the band played song from his recent album, Delilah. His songs range from bluesy ballads to jazzy and choir-esque.
When the show finally ended I met East, asking him what his favorite part of performing was.
“You know that part when we preformed?” East said. “Yeah, that whole thing where we got on stage and played, that was my favorite part.”
And from the excited buzzing of the crowd around us, I’d have to say the audience agreed.
For those who missed his show, East will return to Louisville in July to play Forecastle and that is a performance you don’t want to miss.
Photo by Brooke Moody / The Louisville Cardinal