Young, Texan, tidy and tux'ed up by Crane Brothers, Leon Bridges humbly made his way on stage to a near capacity audience at the St. James on Sunday evening. The man from Fort Worth burst onto the scene only last year, and has since played SNL, been nominated for a Grammy, and toured the world. The tunes are reminiscent of Sam Cooke, smooth soul and jazz the foundations of his sound.
For such a small guy he has an incredible voice, along with a jigging and vibing stage presence. Sunday's gig marked the end of his tour, and he absolutely nailed it.
“I'm going to be honest, when we were sittin’ in my room with the books and the boxes, ten years ago writin’ songs, I never imagined playing to y’all down here in New Zealand.” - Leon Bridges
Personally, I rate his debut album Coming Home as the best album of 2015. I think it's exactly what soul needed, a little fresh blood in the mainstream to rekindle our love for the genre.
As Bridges swung into Shine, you knew this was going to be a great gig. Smashing every tune on the album, along with a few new tracks, the six-piece band held stock as the performance ran like a well-oiled machine. Seemingly vining off of each other, sax, drums, bass, vocals, lead, everything rolled together in a near flawless performance. Leon grooved his way around stage, holding the theatre captivated with his voice, his personality, and his performance. He's a charming dude. It was all about romance, family, and for god's sake, the man was wearing a tux and could still jam it.
Coming Home swung through with immense power; stories told of his grandfather, love, and his home in Fort Worth, Texas. Leon held the crowd singing along to River as he picked up his own guitar and turned down the lights for a resonating intimate showing. The performance of tunes which I hope to hear on the next album, did not in any way, disappoint despite not knowing the words. Even his last encore track, which wasn't even a written song, had the whole place going crazy, grooving away as the night wrapped to a close and Leon jigged off stage.
He’s a beautiful man, still so young, and having already has taken the heart of so many, I'm pretty excited to hear his next album.