Having been to The Barboza in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district before, I knew that the crowd would be fairly small even with LÉON‘s show being sold out. If you have never been to The Barboza, the underground musical venue for Seattle’s famed Neumos, I absolutely suggest you check it out. The stage is small and the room is intimate, even for someone who has claustrophobia, this venue offers quite a bit of space with booths and tables as needed. There is a full bar available and the staff is always fast and friendly. One of the few drawbacks is that the coat check is cash only and bathroom faucets are not always working or attached. It is quite odd, but I am nitpicking.
While waiting for the show to start and it was a late one, doors at 8pm and opener at 9pm, we had a chance to grab a few beers at a local bar Sam’s across the street and listened to some awesome throwback hip-hop that included Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Wrex N Effect among others. Anyhow, as 8pm rolled around, we made our way over to the venue and were early enough to grab a small table with some stools and had a couple drinks before the lights dimmed for the opening act, Jacob Banks.
The young 24 year-old English singer-songwriter came on stage and hammered the crowd with some amazing soul and R&B magic that he amusingly called some “depressing ass songs.” And to be honest, it was some of the best depressing songs. His soulful, rich vocals were, as Jess stated, reminiscent of a “mashup of Hozier and John Legend.” Banks hit us with his song, “Move With You” and handful of other stellar tracks. He announced his intentions to release a new EP in a couple months and trust me, we will be on the lookout.
After a quick stage change and soundcheck, we were led right into LÉON. To be perfectly honest, we have been following the Swedish singer for the past year and a half prior to her dropping her EP, Treasure, in October 2015. Lemonade had high hopes for her then and this concert did nothing to diminish those aspirations. Her energy and outstanding vocal range are spectacular and even being admittedly sick, LÉON hit all of the high notes on her most recent single, “Liar”, with ease and beautiful transitions. Her cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s
“Dreams” was amazing enough to put Stevie Nicks on notice. LÉON performed one other famed song “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” by the Arctic Monkeys, and again, it trumped the original.
Both artists, Jacob Banks and LÉON, are masters of their crafts. They were energetic and engaging. I cannot say enough about how much crowd interaction there was considering the size of the venue and I would absolutely see both of them again. I am feeling pretty fortunate to have seen both in such an intimate setting.
Interesting tidbit, after speaking with a member LÉON‘s crew, it was management’s decision to not sell any merchandise at the show. I was told that it was so that people would be into the music and not distracted.