REVIEW – Anderson East at Summerfest

Summerfest ‘18 was drawing to close. The final night was upon us all and the lineup was of minimal fame. However, one man stood apart from the rest. That man is Anderson East.

Anderson East reigned in the crowd in a humble fashion as he nonchalantly walked out onto the Johnson Controls stage on to greet the 150-ish guest that had come to see the roots-rock star and his ensemble of brass, keys, strings and of course drums. Although Anderson East has been around for a few years he started to woo the crowd with a classic cover of Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”. Thus starting a night filled with loads of tremendous southern sound in one of Summerfest’s smaller venues.

As the show progressed on Anderson followed his Willie Nelson cover with another blues-rock legend’s song “Sorry Your Sick” by Ted Hawkins. Anderson’s ability to belt out these songs not only paid homage to the clear influencers of his own sound but did so in a way that made it his own. Neither of these aforementioned music legends was necessarily known for their voice and that’s where Anderson East truly let his vocal range show. East’s fantastic studio albums do not even come close to displaying this man’s true potential when he is on stage. You could hear every pitch switch and rumbling vibrato that could soothe even the angriest New Yorker on a hot summer day. As impressed as I was already just two songs in, what came next is something I wasn’t expecting at all.

I’m fairly new to the Alabamian, now Nashville native rocker, as I just discovered him a little over a year ago. But that didn’t deter from my enjoyment of his music any less. In fact, I gained even more appreciation after seeing him live. After opening with two covers he jumped right into some of his tracks off his latest album “Encore”. The immediate upbeat brass of “Surrender” mixed with the clapping of a tambourine stood as a wonderful contrast to East’s extraordinarily raspy vocals reminiscent of Little Richie on this track to get the crowd up and moving instantaneously. Shortly after the song finished East did his hello followed by a vaguely obscure reference to the crazy world we are living in. What I appreciated about this sediment is that he left it at that. Nothing heavily politicized just thanked the crowd for having the choice to be anywhere and choosing to come to listen to him and his music. He then introduced his piano player and off they went into the softer “Devil In Me”.

Throughout the show East kept the pace of the show going and the crowd stayed exactly where they were the entirety of him speaking. As he went on to play a few other songs off his first album “Delilah” I saw about half the crowd seemed to know every word and switch up that East threw at them. Then as he started “Without You” I saw a heard a tonal shift, it no longer felt like another Summerfest show, but instead it was something much more personal. He gathered the crowd together and wanted everyone to be a part of the experience with him. Sure it sounds cliche, but when a performer can control a crowd with such simplicity it makes you feel like you are there for more than just some hit songs. Which was a welcome change up as he then proceeded to blow the crowd away with his hit songs “Girlfriend”, “All On My Mind”, “Satisfy Me”, and finished with the perfect ending song for this extremely intimate Summerfest show “This Too Shall Last.”

Throughout the show, I felt that each instrument played an integral part of his larger than life sound. Each member stood out in the songs and of course, there was some very tasteful jamming as one expects when they have a 7 piece band, only to tease us with their quick departure followed by a haunting encore with “House Is A Building’. If you’re ever in Nashville these are the guys you’d hope to see in a random pop up bar playing to their fans and making sure you were eating it up. The show was warm, the instruments were crispy, Anderson East’s vocals blew the crowd away, and left everyone with such a great final Summerfest 2018 experience.

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Somebody Pick Up My Pieces

Sorry You’re Sick

Surrender

King for a Day

Devil In Me

Learning

If You Keep Leaving Me

Without You

Girlfriend

All On My Mind

Satisfy

This Too Shall Last

Encore:

House Is A Building

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