Often, after I haven’t seen the band for a while (in this case it had been over two months!), I worry that perhaps I won’t find the next show to be as fantastic or exciting. But I am always proven wrong. Even though I’ve seen them perform each song most likely more than a dozen times, even though I know I will probably get sprinkled with more of Zach’s sweat from standing over me on stage during “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home,” or that they will probably break into some wonderfully terrible song from the 90s some time during the night, or that Kanene and Jason will be super cute together at some point, the band is able to make it feel fresh each time. It amazes me that they are able to put so much of themselves into their performance, and share so much of their vulnerability, every single night to connect so deeply with the audience.
Friday night was no different. I’ve seen Zach channel a Southern preacher before, but here he was in full on revivalist mode, at one point staring out into the crowd in a sweaty frenzied way, chanting, “I’m feeling the spirit in here, I’m feeling the spirit in here!” There was definitely some kind of spirit in the room and the crowd was feeling it, too. As always, The Lone Bellow had us in the palm of their hands throughout the show, bringing us up with “Leave Me” and “Take My Love,” then bringing us back down to that deeply emotional place with “Marietta” and “Fake Roses.”
After another series of upbeat songs, including Brian’s “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home,” (yes, plenty of Zach’s sweat rained down on me), Jason and Justin left the stage so Zach, Kanene, and Brian could do the acoustic set that always brings the room to (near) silence. Kanene set the tone for the beauty of the moment with “Call to War,” and then they performed Brian’s “Watch Over Us,” which held the crowd rapt. They finished up with an acoustic version of “Looking For You,” with the disco ball shimmering throughout the room. It was gorgeous, and left me feeling spent.
But leave it to Brian to lighten the mood by doing a quick guitar riff of Springsteen’s “Dancing In the Dark,” and the crowd cheered with encouragement. After a chorus of the song, followed by deep, throaty chants of “Bruce! Bruce!” we were all ready for the slightly more energetic, but still full of feeling, “You Can Be All Kinds of Emotional.”
During the second half of the set, Zach introduced the band. He told the story of how he and Brian met at a talent show as college freshman. Brian was on crutches due to a football injury, but got up to sing Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.” During the song, his guitar broke, so he just set it down and finished the song a cappella. Zach decided then and there that he needed to meet that guy on stage. Brian chimed in to share that he and Zach made a bet that he would have to sing the song any time Zach told the story, so the disco ball started up again and we all sang along. When Brian kept going after the first chorus, Zach cringed and begged him to stop, saying he never has to sing it again. We’ll see about that…
When he introduced Kanene, he said her favorite band is Savage Garden, so we all sang along to “Truly Madly Deeply.” Kanene got him back by telling us Zach’s favorite song is “Barbie Girl,” and Zach sheepishly sang the chorus – “I’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world, life in plastic, it’s fantastic …” Fortunately the audience knew much of the rest of the song to help him out.
They ended the set with “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold,” leaving the crowd absolutely riled up before waving and leaving the stage. When they returned for their encore, the crowd spontaneously broke into the chorus of “Green Eyes.” We were definitely feeling that spirit! They brought back the emotions a bit with my personal favorite, “Tree To Grow.” I’m always appreciative when they include that song on the set list. Then they finished up the night with their title track, “Then Came the Morning.” Zach divided the room in half, asking Brian’s side to follow along with him, and Kanene’s side to follow along with her. We all “ahhh-ahhhh-ed” to create the background, while Zach provided the rousing lyrics, complete with foot stomps in all the right places, then left behind his mic to approach the audience and conduct us to sing along with Kanene and Brian, to end the song, and the night, on the perfect note. The rest of the band members joined Zach at the front of the stage to say goodnight and take a much-deserved bow. And then it was over. Until the next time.