I can’t start this blog post without talking about the opening band: The London Souls. For those of you who grew up wanting to play the guitar but lost the ambition for whatever reason: go see the London Souls. It will make you go home and dust off the Fender you begged your dad for 20 years ago.
Not only does lead guitarist Tash Neal exude such unconstrained energy (sort of like me during a Fab sale), the red guitar he twiddles his fingers on is so.damn.sexy. After listening to him play for two songs, I could tell he’d been at this guitar thing for a while. I confirmed this when catching up with Tash after the set and he told me he’d been playing since he was eight. Also as I found out later, not even a hit-and-run accident and brain surgery could knock that guitar out of his hands.
The London Souls were fantastic. They started off with a focused, steady sound and ended the show in the same way. My favorite song was their cover of AC/DC’s It’s A Long Way to The Top (If You Wanna Rock N’ Roll). Very fitting seeing as there is no way I will ever play like them.
By the time North Mississippi Allstars came on stage, The Independent was packed. Energy rushed into the room and the blues began to fill the venue. Brothers Luther (guitar and vocals) and Cody (drums and vocals) Dickinson, and Chris Chew (bass and vocals), did not hold anything back. There was a lot going on for the next hour and a half. The guys played musical chairs with their instruments, with Luther and Chris taking turns at the lead mic. The screen behind them displayed their music videos as well as videos of blues legends. The guys moved around the stage, exchanging guitars for banjos, mandolins for cigar-box guitars, and drums for washboards (yes, washboards).
While these guys mix blues and rock and roll and do it well – there’s a reason they’re described as “putting a fresh face to the blues” – there was something missing. I left wishing I had seen more attitude, more personality, more life to the show. The threesome was very into their music but was not exactly reactive to the crowd; a great concert is one where the band plays both. No need for a Jack Black in the opening scene of School of Rock, but I want to see musicians burn some calories!
By the time The North Mississippi Allstars finished playing, there was only a third of the crowd still there but it didn’t seem like a problem to the trio. Two encores seemed like a bit much but these guys are so talented, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them again.