Going to see Anderson East is a spiritual experience like no other. People of all shapes, sizes, ages and creeds, are all brought together by their love of music. All in the same place, all hooked on every word, every note, every rhythm, every movement, and all finding a part of themselves in the music. It is inhibition and freedom at it’s best.
The muffled hum of those voices was shattered by the opening guitar riff and heady drum beats of George Jackson’s ‘Find ‘Em, Fool ‘Em and Forget ‘Em’, and the subdued audience was brought to life by the rawness and intensity of East’s voice. By the end of the first chorus, my mind and body was so utterly caught up in the soulfulness and rhythm of the music, and watching East’s guitarist Scotty Murray work his unique magic, that nothing else really mattered.
Despite an injury, East played an acoustic set of ‘Lying In Her Arms, the heartbreaking and subdued final track from his album Delilah, in which the words seem even painful for him to utter.
“You were the only one I holding/ And I was holding her close/ You were the only one I was thinking of/ Lying in her arms/ Throwing away our love/ Our love.”
Anderson then played what for me is my favourite song of his, and always will be: ‘What A Woman Wants To Hear’. It sums up East the best; both his lyricism and storytelling abilities as well as his ability to bend and weave his voice in and out of the emotions. One moment his voice is forceful, gravelly and raw, and the next it’s like velvet; almost as if he’s whispering to you alone;
“Calico quilt and muscadine wine/ Silver moon, candlelights/ Pretty little girl, come here/ I want to tell you what a woman, tell you what a woman wants to hear.”
There were moments in the set when an unspoken yearning and longing took hold of the room. A wanting and needing for the music to somehow become more than it could.
We were lucky enough to hear a brand new song, ‘Learning’ from Southern Family, a compilation album produced by Dave Cobb, featuring East and a whole host of other talented musicians. ‘Learning’ is about East’s Father; how he’s shaped him into the he is today. “My father was always there, and so supportive. If I showed interest in something, he was there to add something to it: to take me to baseball games, or coach little league. And he bought me my first guitar.” Hearing the song live is a completely different experience. East and his band gave it all they had, evoking the spirit of Otis Reading at times but always being smart and sensitive enough to pull back when the lyrics and emotion called for it.
Whether on tape or on stage it is quite clear that East feels everything. There’s no bullshitting or phoning it in. Every bit of his being is put into that one moment of emotion in a song. Even with a broken collarbone, he danced and gave it his all for the audience, and hopefully we gave him something back too.
Find ‘Em, Fool ‘Em and Forget ‘Em
Always Be My Baby (Mariah Carey cover)
Keep the Fire Burning
What A Woman Wants To Hear
Lying In Her Arms
Rebel, Rebel (David Bowie cover)
Devil In Me
All I’ll Ever Need
Knock On Wood