Review and Photos by Mike Bax
Proving to a modern generation of music fans that soul and gospel music is both timeless and relevant, Leon Bridges is currently celebrating his successful debut album, Coming Home, on a run of multiple sold out shows all across North America. His stop in Toronto at the Danforth Music Hall was one of these sold out shows, and when the date was originally announced it sold out fast. In fact, I believe he has already sold out a show at Massey Hall in March of next year (a dozen leftover single seats left in the venue is a sell-out in my books).
With Coming Home, the Fort Worth, Texas musician has delivered something warm and subtly refreshing on an unsuspecting public – an album that can appeal to all age groups and fans of multiple genres of music. The ten songs on Coming Home all resonate with a level of musicianship and passion that showcase the virtuoso musicianship of the 26 year-old musician.
Columbian beauty Kali Uchis opened the show with her four supporting musicians, admitting to the audience during her set that this tour has seen her backing band all give up their day jobs to pursue working together as band as a full time thing. Her wonderful blend of rhythm and blues mixed with a hint of reggae seemed like a welcome accoutrement to Bridges style of R&B, and fans unaware of Uchis’ talent were certainly warm to the material she performed for them this evening. As with any show, there were fans there just for her this evening. I had four of them leave their spot at the front of the crowd immediately after Uchis finished performing, giving up their spots to some surprised Leon Bridges fans.
Mixing material from his debut, along with some covers and other hard-to-find gems, Bridges delivered just over an hour of live material as a seven-piece band, accomplishing a live performance that (in my mind) is on par with the excellence showcased on his album. Bridges performed a really small show in May of this year at Toronto’s Drake Underground that VERY few people were able to get into – that venue holds a couple of hundred bodies at best. His sold out return here and his equally sold out performance next March herald the arrival of a musical force to be reckoned with. He’s only getting started and he’s already considered a success story online and in print by reviewers the world over.
I got to see something genuinely special this evening. And I totally knew it.
Brown Skin Girl
Let You Down
In My Arms
Twistin’ and Groovin’
Out Of Line