After the opening act while the stage crew changed over to the headliner I stood there watching feeling like some kind of a doe eyed girl waiting in anticipation for a star. These moments made me think of the reasons that I was here and what this music meant to me. It wasn’t just me that was anticipating what we were about to see the venue was packed and even though it would have been nice to get another drink I don’t think I would have gotten back to this spot. As the opening act finished the motion in the crowd created opportunity to move closer to the stage.
Sometime towards the end of last year the urge to look through and listen to the top albums of the year came to me. I’m out of touch with pop culture these days. It could be due to my advancing years or the fact that I feel alienated a bit from it. Still there must be something good that came out. “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges came up on many lists put out by the variety of music magazines and sites out there. As soon as I listened to it, the opening song and then the rest of the album I felt it resonate with me. It was a stark contrast to some of the other stuff out there. Leon’s unadorned voice and simple arrangements harkened back to a bygone era but they were entirely new. The album has been on repeat ever since.
As soon as I landed here in the UK another inspiration came to me. I checked to see if he was playing anywhere and discovered that on April 7th he would be at the Academy in Liverpool. On my last visit to Liverpool I picked up a ticket to see him perform. It would be a school night but no matter I could make it back to work the next day. It was going to be an adventure.
“The world leaves a bitter taste in my mouth girl
You’re the only one that I want
I wanna be around girl…”
This song talks about longing for the one you love. That woman who makes life complete. This song played many times when Ba(r)be and I were just getting to know each other. It resonated with me and with her and brought out of us something that was usually shielded from others but deeply desired to be found. Now it is a song that I listen to when I think about what I am doing here. Thousands of miles away pining for that feeling again even though it hasn’t left its just been put on hold. Life has many twists and turns that sometimes take us away from another. Hence Coming Home has a resonance since I long for reunification.
There was a rush of excitement upon finally getting to Liverpool. No ID was needed to check into the hotel and my room was high up on the sixth floor overlooking the station. The album blasted from the tiny speakers from the phone acoustically amplified by resonating in the little cup. Filling the air with sweet melody as I got ready. The air was filled with smoke that imbibed my spirit in preparation for the experience. My spirit lifted in anticipation. I’d never actually seen him move or any of the videos. He’s just been a voice that streamed through a variety of devices.
There was no line up outside the venue but inside the crowd filled the space and I took in the opening performance coming in sometime towards the end of her set. Her cover of a Queen song about wanting it all out a smile on my face. That knowing mischievous smile that one gets knowing exactly what someone is talking about.
“Lord, don’t remember
My sins, my sins from my youth
And father please remove
let them blow in the wind like sand”
The hairs on the back of my head stood as the melody and the lyrics reverberated through me. This song was sung by the crowd in tandem with Leon the lyrics obviously resonating with others besides myself.
The set undulated between high intensity grooves and slow soulful tunes. To me the songs took me along a journey from the past to the present and into the future. It may be that his style harkens back to a bygone era and that he is inspired by those artists from then but to me his songs are entirely of the now. They sound fresh next to the over produced over the top pop populating the airwaves. His backup band is different from the one he recorded with. He alluded to that saying that they are playing their own interpretation of his songs and I suspect that some of the new songs they performed together came out of this collaboration.
It’s really good that he is touring I’d like him to succeed. He brought a really positive energy to the stage and invited the crowd to dance and enjoy themselves. At one point when he thanked the crowd he invited everyone to look at the people standing next to them and tell them “I love you” and then give them a hug. It was a good to do something like that even though the bugs were kinda akward. Maybe we don’t do that often enough.
Throughout the performance Ba(r)be was on my mind. If this album symbolizes anything it must be the meeting and then falling in love as well as the journey back that I’m currently on. Coming Home is a theme that permeates my direction. The lyrics express what I feel and the album represents the period in my life when something special developed and awoke deep inside of me. The themes of spiritual awakening and of falling in love are deep within me and Leon’s lyrics resonate lifting them up from within like a panning for gold revealing that emotional treasure.