There are certain events in life that impact us in ways we don’t fully realize until we look at them in hindsight. And then there are the moments we live for, the moments that transcend mere experience into something magical. Spiritual. Practically religious.
Sevendust’s acoustic Evening With…, at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, overflowed with such moments.
A stage lit with candles, a scaled-back drum kit, and four black stools sat in front of microphone stands. As the lights went down on intro music provided by Radiohead’s “Karma Police” and Velvet Revolver’s “Fall to Pieces,” even the casual fan could have recognized that this was not going to be your typical Sevendust show. Not that there were many casual fans in attendance on June 4th. This event sold out well in advance, the die-hards in attendance hungry for the first all-acoustic set since 2004’s Southside Double-Wide, and the first proper Boston appearance in more years than most want to count.
Touring keyboardist Kurt Wubbenhorst set the mood as—with no pretense to speak of—drummer Morgan Rose, guitarists Clint Lowery and John Connelly, bassist Vince Hornsby, and the inimitable vocalist Lajon Witherspoon took to the stage and rolled right into “Trust,” a long-time fan favorite that appears in stripped down form on the recently released Time Travelers & Bonfires. The energy in the room was palpable before the band began playing, and the fiercely loyal crowd showed its appreciation by singing every word of every song, often times as loud as—and in some instances even louder than—the band itself.
The vibe in the room was light, the band all smiles, telling stories and joking between songs. Though Lajon was provided his own stool, in the heat of performance, he is a man that cannot be contained, dancing and prowling the stage, playing up to every “family member”—not “fan,” no, never just “fan”—in the audience. As a frontman Witherspoon always shines, but the sheer power and emotion in his voice is almost primal in such an intimate environment as this.
And those moments. Those transcendent moments. Without at all minimizing the impact of the songs that came before, the Lowery-led “Xmas Day” was the first to lift the evening to another level, followed soon by “Skeleton Song,” a testament to the healing powers of music, that gripped the crowd in a swoon. And while the newer music went over just as well as the classics, one song stood clearly above the others.
As Lajon lamented with the pure honesty he is known for, “Angel’s Son,” the band’s tribute to friend and Snot vocalist Lynn Strait (who was killed in a car accident in 1998), was dedicated to not only Strait, but Witherspoon’s own little brother, as well as Clint’s and John’s respective fathers, Morgan’s grandmother, and the memories of all lives that had been loved and lost. And the crowd paid tribute in kind, taking over the vocal duties for much of the song while the band played on and Lajon held his hands on his heart, gazing over the audience with a grateful smile and crystal tears in his eyes.
There are certain events in life that only come around once, or twice, or maybe even a few times, but are not to be missed when they happen. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll rock your face off…and after an Evening with Sevendust, you’ll feel grateful. You’ll feel lucky and motivated and enthusiastic. You’ll feel happy to be alive.
And you’ll feel sorry for those who missed out.
[Originally posted in The Backstage Beat, June, 2014]
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