REVIEW: Leon Bridges at the BMO Harris Pavilion
It was a brisk, early fall evening when Leon Bridges took to the stage in Milwaukee to put on a wholesome and heart-warming concert. The modern-aged soul singer walked to the stage and promptly began his set with an unmatched coolness that I have not seen before. The way he carried himself on stage was a culmination of 60’s swagger, with his teal bell bottom jeans and a hint of stage fright. Not to say he was nervous by any means, but his demeanor hinted that he still gets those pre-show jitters, and thrives off it.
Hot off his sophomore album, “Good Thing”, Leon Bridges opened with “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)”. The crowd jumped to their feet and began swaying with the soulful sound that Bridges has come to be known for. It was clear that he was excited to be back in Milwaukee, as he greeted his show goers with no sense of pretentiousness. It’s always refreshing to see an artist that loves what he’s doing and tries to make each show special.
Even though he just released an album this year, Leon showed tremendous love to his debut album “Coming Home”, as he played damn near every hit on it, but started with the cool and classy jam “Better Man”. One thing that stood out to me in his show was how amazing the sound was. There was little to no variation from his studio sound to his live show. Every pitch was, dare I say, perfect, and the vocals so powerful that it moved you to your core.
As Leon played song after song, he would switch up from high energy songs to his slower swaying songs that would still have everyone moving. Leon can effortlessly keep everyone in the crowd moving to his music, even though the slower jams he is more known for. I think in large part that is due to his constant movement on stage. He has the same vigor and energy as James Brown did, and it’s very clear that Leon uses James Brown as a sort of style guide from his clothes down to his movements. Although he uses the legendary soul singer as a reference, it never feels unoriginal or copied. Bridges maintains his own feel in every way.
Bridges really hit his stride about halfway through the show, when he played “Beyond” and the whole crowd erupted into singing with him, with the singer inviting the crowd to do the backup parts. From then on, the show was completely electric and Leon showed no signs of losing this energy.
Without a doubt, I would love to see him again. Maybe indoors next time, but the BMO Pavillion was a fantastic sounding venue for someone who is really blossoming into the national music scene. With soulful and original lyrics that still hook the listener into what he’s trying to say, Leon Bridges has so much more music to create, and I hope he continues to do so. That kind of talent mixed with nostalgia and originality definitely has a welcome space in the musical world.