by Caroline Gulla
The Garage in Highbury is a typical black sweatbox of a venue; the best kind when it comes to seeing those bands that warrant your every attention in a smaller venue, and at around 600 capacity this was the perfect setting for tonight’s much anticipated gig. The atmosphere was electric from the minute I walked in, The Americans had just started their support slot. Playing songs from their Loose Music debut album ‘I’ll be Yours’ they oozed Cali-cool and a perfect mix of Americana rock. The lead singer had an effortless charm during his performance and the band were solid. Their performance culminated in an electrifying rockabilly version of Otis Jackson’s 1940 song ‘Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt’. I look forward to seeing more of The Americans in the future, as from this short set, you can tell they’re going places.
By the time Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real hit the stage, the audience were cooking just nicely. The five-piece roots rock band took the stage to rapturous applause on their only UK solo show of their tour. After their roof lifting after-show party and Lukas’ sublime acoustic sessions at Country to Country Festival in March earlier this year, this gig sold out fast after tickets were released. Some might say it was the Lukas Nelson ‘teeth solo’ (believe me, just google it), or just the promise of multi-talented musicians led by Nelson and his ability to make you lose your mind through the duration of the gig that helped it sell out so fast. If I’m being honest, the fact that he’s incredibly easy on the eye as well as being able to play the guitar as easily as you and I can breathe is unbelievably sexy. He’s a Rockstar that women want to be with and men want to be. I’m sure there’s even a fair share of men that want to be with him too, for fear of being non-inclusive.
Opening with Entirely Different Stars, the high energy show kicked off as it meant to go on. Lukas’ soaring vocals and mastery of the guitar evident immediately from the offset with riffs galore and his band’s musical prowess was the perfect accompaniment. I’d usually like to pick out a stand-out member of the band, but bass, keys and percussion were all superb…oh go on then, special mention to Antony LoGerfo on drums who looked like the cat that got the cream through the entire set. A cover of friend Eric Clapton’s Bell Bottom Blues, whom he supported at Hyde Park, was simply stunning when he hit those high notes and listening to the audience singing their hearts out to Carolina – my favourite song – was a particular highlight – as was the hauntingly beautiful Runnin’ Shine. The band left Lukas to his own devices, and a well-earned break, as he treated us all to an acoustic set including Just Outside of Austin, the inimitable Neil Young’s Harvest Moon and the mighty Pearl Jam’s Just Breathe. This is the part of the set where its actually possible to have an out of body experience. Pot or no pot. Lukas is the real deal and the deafening appreciation from the crowd confirms this.
The last half of the gig welcomed the band back to the stage and a chance to shine once more with plenty of superb, extended solos during Forget About Georgia, which by the way, I don’t think is ever going to be easy! Find Yourself had the crowd lapping up every verse and turned The Garage into one huge, loved-up singalong. How do you follow that? With a mind-blowing cover of Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes. A version better than the original – I’m quite happy to lay my cards on the table and state that. I certainly didn’t get any subtle video clips of this song as my body was incapable of keeping still. With so many great songs to their name the anticipation of hearing the sensitive and intelligent Build a Garden and Set Me Down on a Cloud certainly didn’t disappoint when they came around. Even Sympathy for the Devil sounds better when Lukas sings the lyrics and POTR plays the melody – there’s not many people that would even attempt to cover that legendary rock ‘n’ roll anthem and they played it like a boss. A short blues guitar version of Amazing Grace brought the night to the end, a night that could have gone on and on, as you can never get enough of their musical brilliance.
So, music is the food of love as the great bard, Will Shakespeare said? Ok Lukas & your amazing Promise of the Real PLAY ON! Till the next time… ☺