All photos by Ross Bernhardt

Near the end of their sold-out show at New York City’s Town Hall, Zach Williams of The Lone Bellow said this to the crowd. “I don’t care who knows it; New York will always be our home.” This heartfelt moment of sincerity was immediately cut into by fellow band member Kanene Donehey Pipkin, who segued naturally into a paraphrasing of Buddy the Elf’s quote, “New York’s my home and I don’t CARE who knows!”

That exchange was a microcosm of the band’s wonderful concert on Friday, March 30th. The show did feel like a homecoming of sorts for the group, which has southern roots but got its start in Brooklyn. The audience hung on each note all evening, and the amount of love being sent in both directions was palpable.

Eschewing an opener for two full sets (a move I wish more bands would start adopting in the future), The Lone Bellow absolutely brought the place down with their powerhouse style of Americana. They seamlessly transition between thunderous sing-alongs and somber, acoustic ballads. After the first song of their first set in the seated venue, one man in the front row turned around and implored the rest of the crowd to stand up. When no one volunteered, he just made the executive decision himself, and then everyone else followed suit. They are the kind of group that can get people out of their seats, and they did it all evening long.

The Lone Bellow was still touring to support their 2017 release Walk Into a Storm (Descendant, Sony Masterworks) and both sets were filled with wonderful moments from that record and their first two efforts. The decision for multiple sets worked really well here. The first was comprised of the full band (Williams, Pipkin, guitarist/vocalist Brian Elmquist plus a drummer and guitarist/bassist). The full band allowed the songs to really soar and to get things started with a lot of energy.

For the second set, just Williams, Pipkin and Elmquist came out for a run of acoustic songs. Fully expecting another rowdy set, audience members quickly sat down once they realized what was happening. Each member got the chance to take the lead on an acoustic song, but no matter who is out front, the harmonies and highs that the three produce are simply astonishing to take in. They wrapped up the acoustic set with a soulful and hilarious cover of Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” followed by an off-mic performance of “Come Break My Heart Again.” Again, they toe the line between sincerity and silliness better than any group I’ve seen in a while.

Williams is an absolutely breathtaking frontman. His energy never relented over the course of the nearly three-hour show. He was all over the stage, and when he didn’t have a guitar in hand, he was dancing wildly and imploring the crowd for more. He was reminiscent of a crazed pastor filled with the Holy Spirit and leading his congregation in song. Elmquist was certainly the more subdued of the trio, but he occasionally let some fiery guitar solos rip. Pipkin went back and forth between bass and mandolin, and her smile absolutely lit up the room.

To get a fuller sense of the kind of energy the show had, late in the second set the group played their lead single from their most recent album, “Time’s Always Leaving.” When they started, a man came bounding on to the stage just dancing his ass off. He continued to dance crazily for the entirety of the song, and then came back out for a reprise. That man was actor Marc Menchaca (Ozark) who also starred in the music video for the song. Afterward, an exhausted Williams shared that they made him dance from around 4 am until 2 or 3 pm for the video, and that a moment like that could only happen in New York.

After a quick encore, the night was finally over, but there was still a buzz throughout Town Hall. Everyone left knowing they had just seen a band at the top of their game, and there really is nothing quite like that feeling.

Find a gallery from both sets posted below, along with the setlist.

The Lone Bellow Set List:

Set 1 – Full Band
1. May You Be Well
2. Deeper in the Water
3. Bleeding Out
4. You Can Be All Kinds of Emotional
5. Teach Me to Know
6. Is It Ever Gonna Be Easy
7. Diners
8. Long Way to Go
9. Marietta
10. Feather
11. Heaven Don’t Call Me Home

Set 2 – Acoustic Trio
12. Two Sides of Lonely
13. Call To War
14. Telluride
15. Jessica
16. You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To
17. End of the Road
(Boyz II Men cover)
18. Come Break My Heart Again
(off mic)

Set 2 – Full Band
19. Cold As It Is
20. Time’s Always Leaving
21. Tree to Grow
22. Fake Roses
23. You Never Need Nobody
24. Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold

Encore:

25. Watch Over Us (acoustic trio – off mic)
26. Then Came the Morning

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