It is that time of the year again where some of the worlds best hit our shores for Bluesfest. Sydney lucked out scoring one of only two sideshows from Texan, soul revivalist Leon Bridges. His 2015 debut album Coming Home still featuring highly on my weekly rotation, I was intrigued as to what this set would bring. Having released a double A-side this month, this show was going to be the second taster of what was to come. With the show selling out the same day tickets went on sale it was a taster many would be missing out on.
The Metro was at fever pitch early, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Leon Bridges. As he took the stage decked in top to toe white and the first notes of Smooth Sailin’ sounded the crowd sprung to life. He asked if we were cool with hearing a few new songs and followed up with the two singles released only two weeks ago. Bad Bad News and Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand. The new tracks showing that he was pushing his sound into new territory, exploring both something reminiscent of modern RnB with one being flavoured with tinges of jazz and the other bringing back that familiar croon of years gone by.
Careful not to take us into the deep end of the new song game he brought it back with familiar tracks Brown Skin Girl, Coming Home and Better Man, whipping the crowd back into a frenzy. As he paced the stage and danced back and forth just like in the just released Bad Bad News video, he appeared so effortless in delivery and the crowd loved it singing and dancing along with him, with not a single person still for the duration of the set. I overheard American punters behind me saying “Back home you would never see him play in venues this small” stating that venues would be at least 5 times bigger. The only thing I really wished he had brought on tour with him was his sax player who was sorely missed but at the same time, his backing bands guitarists made up for the void with ripping slide guitar solos.
Being over two years on from the release of Coming Home and on the cusp of the release of his follow up album Good Thing in May, it only made sense that he was itching to inject new songs into the set, teasing us with small brackets of new songs before returning us to hits from the first album, Flowers, Twistin’ & Groovin’ and finishing up with Leon putting on a guitar and performing River, with backing vocalist Brittni Jessie. The crowd singing along almost perfectly in tune, with Leon adlibbing to the tune “Sydney you’re sounding good tonight… Sydney you’re sounding so good tonight.”
It all appeared to end far too soon but as nobody leaving there spots and cheering for the band returned and treated to us couple of extra numbers. Live show staple Pussy Footin’ and Mississippi Kisses with an extended bridge sectioning off the crowd as Leon requested to “Do your thang!” from left to right before getting everyone to dance together as everyone let loose for one last song.
The night was a great return to Sydney for the Texan and possibly the last time we may see him perform in a venue the size of Metro, after the release of his eagerly anticipated upcoming album.
Review – Aaron Diaz