A night of moderned-up throwback music thrills a pumped-up crowd.
Launched in New Orleans in 2007 when singer/guitarist David Shaw had a chance meeting with guitarist Zack Feinberg. Jams with drummer Andrew Campanelli and the eventual additions of Ed Williams on pedal steel guitar, Rob Ingraham on sax, bassist George Gekas, and Michael Girardot on both keyboards and trumpet, led to the proper formation of The Revivalists. Not to leave the music mix as-is, second drummer PJ Howard joined the band in 2017. Leaping ahead in the timeline, the band has a few EPs and five full albums to their credit, the latest in Pour It Out into the Night, released on June 2. Pinning down their sound is no easy feat as they defy genres, song to song. A common thread stitching each song on the latest release, sure, can be defined as rock, but elements of soul, funk, rootsy pop, and even gospel vie for influence. Given their wide scope of instrumentation, pulling off these varied sounds within a structure true to the band feels natural, and sounds great. However, the layer on top is vocalist Shaw’s rich voice which adds much to each song. While Pour It Out into the Night will add many more songs to the band’s repertoire of singalongs and fan faves, their live show is full of energy and emotion. This was clear at History on July 26. Opening their set with Good Old Days, from the latest album, it was a perfect song for the crowd and band to dip a toe in the show. Other songs from the new one included Down In The Dirt, Kid, and Only You. Seeming to eschew a set list, it looked like the set was delivered to the rest of the band from Shaw via talkback mic. As a fan of live-without-a-net performances, I noticed the lack of taped-down setlists as soon as the stage was prepped and ready. The Revivalists’ sound was a prominent force coming off the stage, whether it was Feinberg’s varied and tasteful solos, blasts of soulful horns, the rock-steady trio of the rhythm section, or the pure joy pedal steel brings to any song. David Shaw asked mid-set how many people were seeing the band for the first time, which proved for many there, The Revivalists were not a band to miss.
Opening the show and the night was Brighton UK’s The Heavy Heavy. Led by Will Turner and Georgie Fuller, the duo’s music unabashedly wears its influences on its sleeves. An amalgam of the best of American rock from somewhere around the 60s, it would be unfair to ignore their British blend. Taking blues-rock cues from the likes of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Vox-organ-driven vibes from the earliest of the Grateful Dead, the ensemble vocals of The Mamas and the Papas heard in All My Dreams, The Heavy Heavy’s music comes all dusted generously with Turner’s sunny but edgy-folky voice and a Janis-powered lead vocal from Fuller (the latter, shining in Man Of The Hills). The powerful live version of the band included Frank Fogden on keys, guitar, and vocals, Thomas Holder on bass and vocals, and Joe Bordenaro (this time, as they seem to rely on or perhaps prefer assorted players) on drums. Like many of the hazy bands mixed in their sound, the band put on a rock-solid performance tickling this Father John Mistyhead with a soulful take on Real Love Baby. There’s no question of the talent in this young band, they’re not one to miss the next time they’re on this side of the Atlantic.