Words by Corinne Casella
Those lucky enough to be in the audience Thursday, Feburary 6th for The Lone Bellow at Rockwood Music Hall, were taken to church in the truest sense of the word. In support of their fourth studio album, Half Moon Light, the trio set the intimate space on fire for a night of camaraderie, debuts and old favorites.
Celebrating Rockwood’s 15th anniversary, the band, featuring Zach Williams, Kanene Donehey Pipkin and Brian Elmquist, returned to the venue where they recorded their first album over the course of three days in 2013. Recorded live for WFUV, DJ Dennis Elsas opened the show by introducing the band’s music as a ‘tapestry of harmony.’ A moniker they more than lived up to over the course of an evening filled with nostalgia and gratitude.
The intimacy of the venue was punctuated with the group’s signature three-part harmonies and soulful Americana. Starting the set off strong with ‘Wonder,’ a song that managed to convey both a bittersweet maturity, as well as a wistful innocence. With tears in his eyes, Williams, sang out in perfect pitch “Let it break you, let it help you lay down what you held onto,” as he joined Pipkin and Elmquist for a soulful rendition of ‘Count on Me,’ the lead single off their new album. Elmquist in turn dedicated the lyrics, “a hand to hold, there is love all around you,” from ‘August,’ as a thank you to WFUV for their continued support over the years. A love song called ‘Enemies,’ ended the first set on a powerful note.
After a short, but insightful interview with Elsas, the band resumed playing with older gems like ‘To the Woods,’ and another new song, ‘Just Enough to Get By,’ showcasing Pipkin’s stunning vocal talents. Other highlights included a rousing ‘Pink Rabbits,’ and an arresting, ‘May You Be Well,’ sung like an old spiritual with Williams channeling the passion of a southern preacher and the audience his angelic choir. Not to be undone, Pipkin shined on a moving version of ‘A Call to War,’ and Elmquist on ‘Watch Over Us.’ The night ended on an energetic note with a playful teaser of Sugar Ray’s ‘Every Morning’ into crowd favorite ‘Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold.’ Living up to their name, The Lone Bellow, as ever is in a category all their own.
The Lone Bellow will commemorate the release of Half Moon Light at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade on February 7. To listen to the live recording, tune into WFUV on Friday, February 14 at 6 PM.
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