The Lone Bellow in Boston
The Lone Bellow
Paradise Rock Club
Two weeks after releasing their sophomore album, Then Came The Morning, Brooklyn-based The Lone Bellow was back out on the road. They opened the first leg of their 2015 U.S. tour with a sweat-soaked, microphone-twirlin’, foot-stompin’ revival at Boston’s venerable Paradise Rock Club.
The last time the band played the Paradise, in late 2013, there was blood, sweat and tears. The wildly entertaining show culminated in lead singer Zach Williams plunging into the crowd and cutting his head open on his own guitar. So the bar was set pretty high for their return engagement. But bolstered by the new songs from Then Came The Morning, the latest gig may just possibly have topped their now legendary 2013 performance.
Williams opened the show alone at the microphone with his acoustic guitar, for a spare version of “To the Woods,” a slow, folksy tune that closes the new album. It would be the last quiet moment for the next 100 minutes. The rest of the band – Brian Elmquist on guitar, Kanene Pipkin on mandolin and keys, Jason Pipkin on bass, and a new drummer, Justin Glasgow – joined Williams on stage and launched into a suite of songs off Then Came The Morning. The title track, which encapsulates much of what The Lone Bellow do best – timeless, soulful, spiritual songs that are firmly rooted in Americana – was a particular highlight. Only three songs into the set, Williams was covered in sweat, the crowd was swaying, and it was hard to believe they’d only been playing for 15 minutes.
If you were a fan of The Lone Bellow’s self-titled first album, it’s hard to believe you would not take to their second album, which to my ears is even stronger. They covered most of the new tracks at the sold-out Paradise show—from mid-tempo numbers like “Fake Roses,” to the more spiritual “Marietta” and “Diners,” to the swamp blues of “If You Don’t Love Me.” And during a stretch that saw them string together “The One You Should’ve Let Go,” “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home” and “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold,” they came close to melting the towering snow banks that lined the blizzard-bedeviled streets of Boston.
Elmquist and Kanene Pipkin each took a turn at lead vocals, the former for “Watch Over Us” and the latter for the haunting “Call to War,” both of which, judging from crowd reaction, are growing into fan favorites. The band soars, though, when the voices of all three singers meld together, as they did on the electric version of “Take My Love” that galloped the main set to a close, and the twin encores of “Bleeding Out” and “Teach Me to Know.” And yes, Williams did launch himself into the crowd not once but twice, avoiding any serious head injuries this time out. Indeed, the entire band finished the show out in the adoring crowd, before reluctantly bringing things to a close.
The Lone Bellow have a string of mostly sold-out dates in the eastern half of the country over the next six weeks before they head west later in the spring and hit the festival circuit this summer.