The way the music industry is heading is incredibly exciting. No longer do you need a “hit” single on radio or on the charts to be able to share your music and tour the world. Now artists have incredible platforms thanks to social media and streaming services that share music wider than ever before. And a true success story from this new career avenue is Leon Bridges. The Texas born soul singer exploded onto the scene with his viral hit ‘Coming Home’ which introduced him to a new wave of RNB and soul fans. After wowing crowds at Bluesfest last year, he’s returned down under for a massive run of shows including two sold out show at The Tivoli in Brisbane.
Night one of his two show stint saw the Brisbane crowd packing in early for the chilled out vibes of breakthrough American favourite, Noah Kahan. Kicking off his set with the vibey ‘Fine’ he quickly got acquainted with the intrigued crowd. “I’m Noah Kahan and I’m going to be the white guy on guitar” before quickly adding “This is my band. Without these guys I would be just the jewish Ed Sheeran. And no one wants that”. With the crowd laughing along hysterically, it was obvious that he immediately had them on side. Playing older tracks like ‘Passenger’ and ‘Sink’ he slowly got to his newer material with recent single ‘False Confidence’ which he introduced by saying “if you know this one then singalong. If not, then fuck you”. He followed it up with his future single ‘Mess’ which will be released in a couple of weeks and hears him reflecting on going home. The big chorus is one you will easily hear on radio and one you will have added to your Spotify playlists straight away. His sound sits comfortably somewhere between Dean Lewis and Passenger and has a lot more charisma than Ed Sheeran. Dedicating ‘Carlos Song’ to his friend who passed away last year, he had the crowd silent and in awe of his vocals. Creating one of the biggest singalongs of the night he delivered a euphoric version of ‘Hurt Somebody’ before wrapping up his set with ‘On My Mind’ and ‘Young Blood’. Thanking the crowd for being so attentive he walked off stage with his guitar in the air.
After a brief intermission, the crowd continued to pack into the theatre until it was at full capacity as the band made their way onto the stage with a long and soulful introduction. Emerging into the spotlight, Leon Bridges instantly offered the slick RNB vibes with ‘If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be). “Brisbane, make some noise” he yelled as he rolled into ‘Bad Bad News’ and broke down the production to jam out with his band. Noticing that the crowd were a little reserved he commented “that may have been too new for Brisbane. Should we throw it back to album number one” before delivering ‘Better Man’ which had the crowd singing along loud. From then on, he had the crowd onside through new tracks ‘Shy’, ‘Beyond’, ‘Georgia To Texas’ and the slick ‘Forgive You’ which was a lot more polished in the live set. But he kept a good balance with ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Lisa Sawyer’ thrown into the mix. With a silver microphone stand a shiny sequinned backdrop, Bridges took you back to the old Motown era with big band breakdowns, slick choreography and some gospel influenced hooks. The structure of his setlist was a little all over the place and could have been refined and restructured a little to create a bigger impact as some songs interrupted the mood at times. “I know its hot in this mother, but can we turn the tempo up?” he questioned before closing his set with ‘Smooth Sailin’ and ‘Flowers’. With the crowd asking for more, he returned for the actual closing numbers River’ and ‘Mississippi Kisses’ which lets be honest, the crowd wasn’t going to let him leave without performing. Throughout this 90 minute show he showcased a wide versatility that entertained his very supportive and excited fans and had everyone diving into the soulful live music world again which is a great and rare thing.
Check out the full gallery captured by Claudia Bill Photography HERE;
Photos by Claudia Bill