Anderson East. Anderson East. When I was asked back in February if I wanted to go to this show, I knew absolutely nothing about him or his music. His name sounded more like a satellite office of a major company than a bluesy R&B artist. However, my opinion was drastically changed after being able to cover him live. He knows how to put on a show, he’s got that thick Alabaman accent and he definitely knows what the ladies like. I almost couldn’t hear the music over all the swooning going on in the audience. It was an absolute pleasure to cover, and it all started from the very second I entered First Ave.
J.S. Ondara was the opener of the show; his set was mellow and simple, but also incredibly impressive. His voice mesmerized the crowd, while his strums of the guitar complimented the vocals perfectly. If the name sounds very familiar, you’re not alone in that sentiment. Though J. S. Ondara was born in Kenya, he calls the Twin Cities home and has been getting tons of local coverage via The Current. In particular, “Revolution Blues” really stuck out to me during his performance. I’d keep my eye on him, I could see his music really gaining a following.
After a lengthy intermission, Anderson East took the stage with his whole entourage, and I chose the word ‘entourage’ because it was (more or less) a jazz big band up there with him. He had a sax player, a trumpet player, bassist, guitarist, drummer and a keyboardist.
He came out with a bang, leaping all over the stage, and leaning deep into every lyrical bar. The mic stand leaned with him and sometimes was tossed aside entirely. He most definitely got as close to the crowd as an artist can without stage diving.
He sang with such a presence that it made me wonder how he kept his voice from going out during his tour. He was belting during his first three songs and swinging the mic like a bolas, though he did eventually calm down a bit to bring out some ballads.
One, in particular, started out with a story about summer camp. Being from a small town in Alabama, Anderson attended a Presbyterian Church camp in the summer. He distinctly remembered two things from his times in camp. One, he grew up Baptist, and the Presbyterian kids had waaaaaaaay better weed, and two was the term ‘purpling.’ As he put it, boys are the color blue and girls are the color pink and when you put them together it makes purple. He said after that explanation “Now, I’m not sure if that is how the color wheel works exactly, but what better city to be the color purple?” Nailed it. Prince reference. At First Ave. 14/10. I definitely audibly groaned when he said that, but that was a killer Segway, I gotta give him that. Way to know your audience, bud.
Normally, I don’t really call myself a big fan of the bluesy, southern soul type of music. Before the show, East’s tracks weren’t really doing it for me. I was just struggling to get into it. It just wasn’t really getting me to vibe. That was a bit weird to me because over half of what I listen to is soul and R&B. But, like I said earlier, seeing the whole experience really changed it for me. The passion, heart, and soul that was put into each track made seeing Anderson East a genuinely awesome experience. The chorus of “All On My Mind” just made you bob your head, and the ballad “Devil In Me” made the whole crowd sway, and some of them pull out their cell phone flashlights like lighters. The energy was contagious.
The show went well into the wee hours of Thursday night, and the encore stretched it even a bit longer. It was possibly the longest encore I have ever seen, with four full songs and introduction to his band. One of which was nicknamed “The Impregnator,” something that no one dared explain to the packed house. The set ended out with “Satisfy Me,” one of Anderson’s best-known tracks and, like a maestro, Anderson put back on his jacket and built his band up to last big finale and a flying leap off the drummer’s raised platform.
And that was that. A wave goodbye, another awesome show in the books and definitely a new fan of Anderson East in Minneapolis. (That’s me.) Go check him out!