My rule of thumb is, if an artist can’t keep an audience captivated and wanting more with just the bare bones; be that a guitar or a piano and just their voice, then they really shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing.
Anderson East came with nothing but these bare bones; a guitar, his voice that dances the line between honey coated and desperately raw, and his heartfelt stories and dirty Southern humour. It should be noted that at one point during the show, Anderson stopped to take of his jacket announcing that “I seem to have got myself all damp” with a look of complete innocence before picking up his guitar, and saying, “Yeah, I went there”, to laughter from the audience.
Two lines into the opening song ‘Only You’, off his debut album ‘Delilah’, and the room that had been previously buzzing with conversation and the clinking of glasses, fell completely silent. All you could hear were East’s vocals and guitar reverberating around the room, and the feeling you were witnessing something truly special. There aren’t a lot of shows where the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I found myself with tears in my eyes before the end of the first song.
‘Devil In Me’, the centrepiece of the album, was played next, with Anderson introducing it, as “a song about fornicating with a Preacher’s daughter”, in all seriousness. The live version is really something else; East’s voice at times delicately quiet then rises up giving you chills all over and takes you to a place where you can actually feel all hurt he’s ever felt and all the desire he’s ever felt.
‘All I’ll Ever Need’, perhaps the happiest song on the album or in East’s words, “a true love song, no complications or bullshit” followed, but not before the audience was asked how many of us were in love, from which a measly three people put their hands up. Disappointed with the response, East suggested to the guys, if they felt the need, to kiss the prettiest girl next to them or the handsomest guy; he wasn’t bothered.
‘Lonely’, “about being a dumbass”, tells the story about calling up an ex lover just to hear their voice and only then realising the damage and heartache you inflicted.
“If you feel the urge to dance or if the spirit moves you, you’ll get no complaints from this side of the stage” said East has he launched into ‘Quit You’, which lost of none of it’s groove and rhythm, and had some members of the audience clapping along.
East closed with ‘Satisfy Me’, the rough and hungry soul song about wanting and needing more to be satisfied, which is how he left the audience, chanting “more, more.”
The set was relatively short but East managed to play most of the songs from his new album as well as an old track from his previous EP ‘Flowers of the Broken Hearted’. The absence of a full band did nothing to quell the soulfulness of the music; it actually gave the songs room to breathe and change shape in a slower and more intimate setting that let you to fall in love with the stories and his voice.