Sunday was a good night for Twin Cities fans of 1970s-inspired rock, as young phenom guitarist Marcus King headlined an impressive, multi-faceted lineup.
Though most of the acts on the bill had a more defined 70’s rock influence, opener Ashland Craft’s acoustic set was a good way to ease into the evening. Craft, who has a commanding voice, confidently held the audience’s attention with her unique brand of country.
At one point, Craft mentioned that she usually plays with a full band, but her comfort level on stage was such that it didn’t feel necessary, even when opening for multiple louder, high-energy acts.
Craft’s voice was especially strong on a cover of Chris Stapleton’s “I Think You Should Leave.” The song, like many Stapleton songs, isn’t easy to nail, but Craft made it her own. While she was the lone country act in the show, she more than held her own on a stacked bill.
Following Craft was keyboard, piano, and organ extraordinaire Neal Francis and his band. Building buzz since his Colemine-released, New Orleans-meets-Billy-Preston 2019 debut Changes, Francis arrived at the palace riding a wave of deserved hype.
Though his two full lengths (the other being last year’s In Plain Sight) are excellent, much of this hype has built via word-of-mouth buzz surrounding his live shows. The audience, unsurprisingly, wasn’t disappointed, as the band moved through hookier numbers (In Plain Sight’s “Problems”), key-driven funk (“Changes, Pts. 1 & 2”) and deep psychedelic jams (“Prometheus”).
After a short set by show “host,” comedian Deal Delray, Marcus King and his band took the stage.
King is a flamethrower of a lead blues and rock guitar player. His dynamite playing and smoking band, complete with a horn section, created an impressive display of blues, soul, and rock and roll. The band was exceptionally versatile, ripping through rock numbers, going deep on jams, and playing the blues with reverence and fire.
Though they were touring behind his recent 70’s rock indebted Young Blood and played several of its songs, the band was unafraid to open the catalog, including soulful numbers from earlier King albums El Dorado and Carolina Confessions.
His eclectic set wrapped up a wide-ranging night of Cosmic American Music.