Over the years, I have had the pleasure of reviewing quite a few albums and EP’s. Some of them have been amazing and some of them have been mediocre. Well, almost five years ago, I reviewed Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery‘s first EP, We All Say Hello. I was not terribly enthusiastic.
After the review was released, I received an email from Joshua Powell and he thanked me for my constructive criticism and promised that his next album would be better. He politely asked if I would be willing to give the new record a shot once it was ready. I agreed.
Needless to say, I reviewed his next three albums, Traveler, Man Is Born For Trouble and his latest Alyosha and each was better than the previous. So much so, that last year, I gave Alyosha my award for Favorite Album of 2015.
So when I found out that the Indiana-based band was going to make a stop in Seattle, I had to go.
The venue was the small Jewelbox Theater at the Rendezvous in the Belltown neighborhood. Seriously, I think at capacity it may hold 80. But the intimate setting was perfect to see an indie folk rock band that was cramming 60+ concerts in less than 3 months. The concert was supposed to start around 9:45pm, but it was delayed about a half hour. I knew it was going to be a late night.
The opening act was an acoustic artist, Spencer Glenn. His music was everything you would want in a coffee house artist. He was thoughtful and laid back. Although, the music was what you would expect a slow tempo, acoustic singer-songwriter to play. And as part of the standard repertoire indie-folk group, they did a pretty decent cover of “Landslide.” I am not sure that Spencer Glenn fit with a late Saturday night show, but they held their own.
After a short intermission and gear change, next up was Jordan Campbell, who goes by the moniker, A Weekend At The Feelies. The guitarist and singer/songwriter has an interesting take with tons of bluesy guitar riffs, a bunch of microphone distortion and flowing dreamscape music. The ethereal sound were interesting and heartfelt with the soulful, richness in Campbell‘s vocals. A very good warm up to the main act.
While the first two bands were a little laid back and mellow, Joshua Powell and The Great Train Robbery is anything but laid back. The heavy, jamming psych-rock sound was a great pick-me-up as it was after midnight before they took the stage. Every song was filled with high energy and Powell’s vocals left nothing to desire.
If you have listened to Joshua Powell on his albums, you know that there is some serious vocal talent there, but nothing really prepares you for the level and quality that he has in a live performance. There are some artists that are just better live: Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Sam Harris of X Ambassadors, Hozier and now Joshua Powell. (Adele is on that list too, but you can read that article next.) That is some rare company.
Seriously, getting to see a talented artist in a venue this intimate is special. If you can catch Joshua Powell and The Great Train Robbery live do it.
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