When I first started this blog in January 2013, one of the first blog entries I put up was a list of my favorite concerts of 2012. Breaking the Top 10 was Allen Stone’s performance at the Fonda Theatre, Friday, October 19th, 2012. I only wrote a couple of sentences about the performance (below … which I should have proofread), but being an avid fan of soul and R&B music, I was particularly impressed.
His performance at The Fonda made me an instant fan, so much so that I reviewed his first album “Last To Speak”, tried (but missed) his set at Coachella, and bought VIP tickets to see him perform at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue, even hanging out with him and his manager afterwards at my favorite bar in Santa Monica. When I heard that he had a gig scheduled at The Echo (a venue, ironically enough, that I hadn’t seen a show in), I snapped a ticket up immediately. Knowing that he was currently writing and recording music for his next album, I anticipated a mix of both old and new songs.
When I arrived at the venue, there was a line at least 30 people deep. Knowing that the event had sold out, I asked the bouncer whether I had to wait in line if my ticket was at will call. He indicated that the people waiting in line were waiting to see if any extra tickets would become available. I was glad that I got my ticket way in advance.
As soon as I stepped into the 350 person capacity venue, I felt a warmth overcome me. Yeah, it was packed, and I kinda felt sorry for anybody hoping to score a ticket last minute. I became somewhat resigned insofar as I knew that I got there a little too late to find and stake out a good vantage point to take pictures, but I did what I could.
An as aside, and a concert going tip, at The Echo there isn’t any reserved seating. The booths that line the walls are first come, first served. As I was walking through the venue during Allen’s set, I noticed there was space between an older man and his wife at a booth. In between songs, I kindly asked if I could stand there for a song or two to take some picture, and he pointed his finger at me saying that I was blocking his wife’s view, and that the section was “reserved” for him. After the show, on my way out, I asked the the employees working the ticket office about “reserved seating”, and they told me that there was no such thing at The Echo. Even old people are mean.
That little rude blip didn’t get me down though. How could it when the music was so good? His setlist was a mix of tracks from his first album (“Figured It Out”), self titled album (“What I’ve Seen”, “Unaware”, “Contact High” and an acoustic version of “Satisfaction”), covers (Tingsek’s “Six Years”, Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good” and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”) and newly written material (“Momma Gonna Punish You”, “Million” and “Voodoo”).
He sang the Gotye cover for his encore, and I must say that his vocal rendition, and arrangement, of it blew my mind. For a song that has been covered by everyone and their mom, he breathed a new life into it. His voice forceful, and longing, it was a performance that gave me chills, making me fall in love with a song that, truthfully, I never cared for.
The only thing that would have topped the Gotye cover would have been if Allen Stone performed the song that got me interested in his music and sound in the first place: “Another Break Up Song”. That didn’t happen, but I ain’t complaining.
After the gig, I bumped into a mutual friend who writes for the Los Angeles Times. He was with Allen’s publicist and I exchanged some pleasantries adding that I was happy to hear that Allen would be playing at the Playboy Jazz Festival this year. I didn’t tell her that I actually predicted that he would be performing at the Hollywood Bowl, but I did tell her that I’d buy a ticket for the day Allen performs if he puts “Another Break Up Song” on the setlist. I wonder if my mutual friend can find out if that song gets put on the setlist … hmm ….
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