Grammy award-winning R&B, Soul and Blues permeated through the striking Her Majesty’s Theatre on Tuesday night.
Returning to Adelaide/ Tarntanya after a sizzling outdoor performance in 2019 (it was 42 degrees!), Leon Bridges was welcomed by a near sold-out crowd. Only a handful of Grand Circle nose-bleed seats remained to savour his smooth rhythms on a frigid evening.
With her debut album, I’m Feeling Hopeful creating waves for its flawless application of R&B and neo-soul, special guest Milan Ring rang in the night. Oozing talent, she entertained us with a brief yet impactful set. Songs including Green Light, Hands are Tied, Fluttering, Keep Me Safe, and Sydney Hue highlighted the symbiosis of live music and technology. But it was Hide With You, with its angelic choir-like sound, that was truly impressive. The Sydneysider left us wanting more.
We received more when Leon Bridges swaggered onto the stage with his five-piece band and two backup singers. Dressed in black, wearing sunglasses, and coolness radiating, he offered more than a handful of songs from 2021’s Gold-Diggers Sound. Born Again, Steam, Motorbike, Sweeter, Blue Mesas and Magnolias made the main set cut.
Bridges was in a good mood. He shared little quips with the audience and encouraged energy that was reciprocated. Screams of “I love you, Leon” and recurrent wolf-whistles infiltrated the evening and lifted the already electric vibe.
Smooth Sailin’ brought the funk and some memorable dancing; Brown Skin Girl the retrospective Motown sound; Texas Sun the warmth of blues/ country; Beyond the slow-paced R&B.
The set list was curated to allow a suitable flow of pace. River, a duet with Brittini Jessie, was deliberate and divine. While the mid-tempo C-Side brought the funk back before You Don’t Know, shared with Jessie and Marcel Mills, generated a disco-esque atmosphere
The up-tempo songs garnered enthusiasm and a yearning to dance. But the seated Her Majesty’s Theatre made it challenging to enact. As stunning as this venue is, it was the incorrect one for an artist with a discography like Bridges. Nevertheless, it was gratifying to sit back and absorb the slower-paced songs such as Coming Home and Mrs.
The main set closer, Bad Bad News, finally had everyone up on their feet, singing and dancing in their allocated spaces. Some raucousness ensured Bridges and the band returned for a two-song encore: the sensual Lisa Sawyer, the warm-up to the bluesy explosion of Twistin’ & Groovin’.
Bridges’ talent is undeniable. When infused with his intoxicating charisma, an impressive performance is inevitable. The Boundless Tour was a welcome addition to 2022.
Live Review By Anita Kertes
Photo Credit: Adam Thomson