Anderson East makes his Manchester Music Hall debut and ends the night “Feeling Like Forever Friends” with an enthusiastic Lexington audience.
After making several appearances in Louisville in recent years, Alabama native and current Nashville resident Anderson East seems as surprised as anyone when he tells tonight’s packed crowd that he’s never been to Lexington. He certainly receives a warm welcome on this stop of this “Encore World Tour.”
With two full-length albums under his belt, 2015’s major label debut, Delilah, and the recently released Encore, the next hour and 45 minutes is jam-packed with one song after another running the gamut of emotions. Admitting that writing sad songs brings him joy, Anderson East is truly at his finest when he is standing center stage in front of the mic stand, heart on his sleeve, pouring his heart out in his song. Absent from the live shows are the backing vocals found on the records, which allows for a more poignant rendition of the heartbreaker “If You Keep Leaving Me”, co-written by Chris Stapleton and the passionate “Without You.” His rendition of Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces” gives the gritty soulfulness of his voice the perfect vehicle to shine, while keeping a country flavor. The beauty of Anderson East’s vocals is the in the intensity of emotion he can convey, at times soft and tender, while next nearly screaming while stretching his voice almost to the breaking point.
It’s not all about heartache and heartbreak, however. There is the sultry “All on My Mind”, which has the crowd singing along, the playful “Sorry You’re Sick”, and “Girlfriend”, which features the stirring work of Phillip Town on keyboards. It doesn’t take long for the room to get hot and sweaty as Anderson East dances across the stage, spinning in circles, leaning over the edge of the stage, captivating his audience. When Anderson East tells the crowd that he’s glad to be in Kentucky because people here know how to “do it right”, everyone cheers in appreciation. He cites Bluegrass music and Kentucky’s “brown liquor” as examples of doing it right, saying, “I’m glad to have some Kentucky in my glass.”
Finishing off the night’s performance, opener Devon Gilfillian and his band join Anderson East and his band for a lighthearted cover of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” which had the whole place dancing and singing along. It is always good to see the headliner share the stage with their support band, and is especially fitting since these artists are kindred spirits artistically. The closing song of the night is from the new album. “This Too Shall Last” in the perfect blend of southern soul with a gospel influence. After almost 2 hours, the night comes to a close, and it is safe to say that this audience would be going home satisfied and smiling.
Providing support tonight is Nashville based singer-songwriter Devon Gilfillian and his band, who as it turns out is the perfect choice to get things started. They get right down to the business of winning over an audience that knows little about them, and it takes them no time at all. With a self-titled EP out, Devon Gilfillian gives the crowd a solid set of southern soul inspired original music that gets the crowd dancing, and hootin’ and hollerin’ along with him. An unexpected highlight of their set is when the 4 of them gather around one microphone for an a cappella version of the classic “Lean on Me”, because, as Devon tells us, “We all need each other”. By the time their short set is over, people in the audience can be heard commenting on “how good those guys are!”