Gig Review: Leon Bridges @ The Forum
Leon Bridges. It’s hard not to fall in love with the buttery, soulful vibes of the 26-year-old Texan. Words cannot describe how excited we were to get along to one of Bridges’ Splendour In The Grass sideshows. We were thrown back to the late 1950s and early 1960s as we joined the full house at The Forum.
The evening began with the chill, electro stylings of Ngaiire. Powering through a set that sent shivers down our spine we were left wanting more. There was a buzz that filled the crowd waiting in anticipation for Bridges and co to grace the stage. As Bridges’ backing band took to the stage, we were transported to another era. All members were dressed to the nines, exuding jazz and soul from every angle. As Bridges grooved onto stage there was immediate crowd participation as the band powered through tracks from Bridges’ debut offering Coming Home.
Leon Bridges may have been the star of the show but at no point did he let that get in the way of his talented backing band. On many occasions during the set, each member was given the opportunity to stand in the spotlight with a cheeky solo here and there. Meanwhile, Bridges charismatically bounced from member to member, twisting and grooving as he did.
The night was filled with all of our favourite tracks but ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Betterman’ proved to be crowd pleasers as the entire theatre erupted into a sing-a-long. For us, hearing a rendition of Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’ was definitely a highlight of the set. Bridges seems like the kind of guy that likes to keep himself busy on the road, and with that in mind we were lucky enough to hear a couple of new tracks mid-set. Why the hell not?
Leon Bridges is not just a vocalist, he’s a performer. Right from the beginning he had us in the palm of his hand. As he crooned, we swooned. As he called, the crowd responded. Time and time again the microphone was pointed in our direction, only to get the crowd involved one more time. The energy in the theatre continued to grow with the crowd wanted more. People were cheering, clapping and stomping, erupting once again as Bridges returned to the stage to play a handful of more tunes.
With the close of his set, Bridges’ was humble and thankful and so was his band as they stood looking out towards the crowd, taking in what just went down.
Photos by Olga Rozenbajgier