A little heads up: Leon Bridges and his band were absolutely unforgettable. Their performance was a riveting, enthralling, grandiose, and timeless affair, where those in attendance deservedly rewarded Bridges' sound with the most love and admiration and adoration and respect music of such quality deserves. It was the type of concert where flowery, over-the-top, incredibly positive, descriptive words aren't exaggeration, but instead, are accurate, factual points. To be short: it was a wonderful time.
It was the last show I planned to attend during my vacation in Toronto and it was arguably the one I was most excited for. I arrived at the Danforth Music Hall about an hour after the doors opened in an ignorant attempt of missing the opener — the Colombian songstress: Kali Uchis — considering I had never listened to her music before. Fortunately, I'm pretty bad at anticipating things and my timing couldn't have been any better. I arrived a few minutes before Kali took the stage with her band and I found myself thoroughly enjoying their set. While the majority of the crowd was there to see Bridges, you could also see that a small percentage of the crowd was, in fact, there to see Uchis sing, too. Her voice reminded me of the late Amy Winehouse but her musical style was too unique to water it down with an absolute comparison. Uchis was soulful with tinges of reggae vibes and obvious South American tendencies (I liked her enough to check out her latest project, Por Vida, which you can download here).
To be honest, her set was the only thing that could have hampered my experience as a whole — but she killed it. How contrarian of her. Tonight was going to be a good night.
Next up was Leon Bridges.
The 26-year-old Fort Worth, Texas native came out with a seven-piece band and they didn't skip a beat; they quickly began their set which covered the majority of his 2015 debut, Coming Home, alongside a few additional songs I still can't place.
His music is the type that never truly gets old. I mean, it's classic '50-'60s soul music but it's so universally loved when it's done right that you can't actually dislike it (well, unless you don't have a pulse). His live performance was better than the record itself and it's not that surprising when you consider the musicality and musicianship that goes into a sound like his. It was happy music, refreshing and tailor-made for Bridges as a person, and as an artist. He didn't hesitate between songs and kept the banter to a minimum singing with all of his heart. His back-up singer, Brittni Jessie, was a genuine complement to his voice and provided an individual talent of her own. There was a roar of applause when he took the time to introduce her near the halfway point. And the applause didn't stop. Fans continued to applaud for what seemed like an eternity in comparison to the rest of the band and everyone on stage was taken aback at the support. She was bashful and beautiful as the crowd took the better half of a minute to cheer her on. Finally, the applause shifted to the rest of the supporting cast who all received similar, albeit shorter, receptions. The camaraderie was there; the music was there; and it became very apparent — just as it was from the onset of the show — this evening wouldn't be hindered by anything.
The positivity in the building was like nothing I had experienced in a long time. The crowd was in absolute love with the performance and I can't recall a single negative thing to report. Hell, Danforth's floor was slanted down so you could watch — uninhibited — from any vantage point on the ground (unlike Sound Academy's horrible set up). That young old-soul even took the time to generously shout out the top floor's seated audience.
The demand for his encore was almost primal.
Sheesh, it was a time, it really was.
If you ever have the chance to see Leon Bridges live, do it. I really don't think there's any chance you'd have a bad time.
I know I'll never get over it.