Live Review: Daniel Rodriguez and Friends, The Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey – 17th November 2023

Daniel Rodriguez live at the Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey, - 17th November 2023
photo: Graeme Tait

It is now over five years since Daniel Rodriguez, founding member of Colorado based outfit Elephant Revival, set off on a solo career. Despite the impact of the pandemic the pursuing years have proved to be extremely fruitful starting with the release of his EP ‘Your Heart, The Stars, The Milky Way’ in 2019, quickly followed in 2020 by a debut album, the much lauded ‘Sojourn Of A Burning Sun’, whilst earlier this year saw the release of his sophomore offering ‘Vast Nothing’. Now, having built a strong reputation on the live circuit throughout the U.S. and Canada which included opening for The Luminaries on their ‘Brightside’ tour, Rodriguez has brought his four piece band comprising of Justin Mazer on lead guitar, Zach Jackson on bass and Emma Rose on guitar and harmony vocals to Lincolnshire’s premier Americana Music venue at the Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey.

The evening’s show is well attended, suggesting that the rave reviews emanating from previous shows on this tour such as Kilbarchan up in Scotland and closer to home at the Band Room in Bradford had reached the ears of the local congregation as the room buzzed with anticipation ahead of proceedings. As well as being a member of the band, Emma Rose also had the auspicious role of support act for the evenings concerts. Back in the US, Rose fronts her own band, Sound Of Honey, who earlier this year released the EP ‘Dozens of Colors’ and with the accompaniment of just her acoustic guitar she entertained the crowd for slightly over half an hour with a set comprising of six strong songs that fully displayed her unique style of dreamy poetry wrapped within a unhurried laid back persona.

At the end of her set Rose departed the stage to be replaced by Rodriguez and remaining band members, Mazer and Jackson and, without any introduction, began the first set with ‘Steal The Night Away’, the opening track from the 2019 EP, with its catchy chorus quickly connecting with the audience, the musicians on stage taking little time to find their groove. Next was ‘Rooftops’, the first of several numbers from the most recent album where the bright chords from Rodriguez’s acoustic guitar offer a certain juxtaposition against the reflective narrative while his vocal delivery adds just the right amount  of nostalgia. From here it’s the turn of the debut album with three tracks back to back. First up is ‘As I Am’, which shines the light on some wonderful lead guitar from Mazer that, rather than hogging the spotlight, simply weaves itself around Rodriguez’s vocals becoming the perfect conduit for the song. ‘Snowman’, is up next with its strong rhythmic pulse underpinned by Jackson’s excellent bass playing who also supplies backing vocals. The last of the triad of songs from the debut album is the fabulous title track with its gentle hymnal quality washing over the evening’s congregation. Throughout the first set there is very little banter between songs, Rodriguez choosing instead to focus on the continuity of the music and creating an ambience within the hall rather than a more staccato approach of stopping to introduce each track. To all sense and purpose this tact was more than successful though it did lean towards the presumption that the audience were all fully converse in Rodriguez’s back catalogue. Strangely enough Rose had also chosen not to introduce any of her songs during her support set which all seemed a touch perplexing. The following number ‘Mixtape’, taken from the most recent album saw Rose return to the stage supplying some exquisite harmony vocals to support the urgency in Rodriguez’s narrative. quickly followed by their homage to their home state with ‘Colorado’, before closing the first set with the title track to this year’s release ‘Vast Nothing’.

Daniel Rodriguez & Friends live at the Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey. 17th November 2023.
photo: Graeme Tait

After a short interval the second set commenced in a similar fashion to the first, opening with ‘Dolores’, a track from 2019’s EP, with just Rodriguez, Mazer and Jackson on stage. Rodriguez’s lyrics are always very persona,l mostly sung in the first person, with a deceptive narrative that seldom reveals all on first listen, instead choosing to draw the listener in allowing them to discover what lies beneath with each return visit. His most recent album ‘Vast Nothing’ is a prime example of this with its ‘slowburn’ delivery requiring a more patient approach that more than amply rewards. That said, the following track ‘Pride and Truth’, is probably the most immediately accessible track on the album and live its infectious chorus immediately encourages audience participation. Next up was ‘I’m Yours’, a more whimsical laid back offering before we get one last number from the EP with ‘Growing Pains’ and by now the band have got the audience hanging on every note and every breath. During the second set there is a greater interaction between Rodriguez and the crowd, not to the point where songs are formally introduced, but a definite relaxed familiarity and warm banter emanating between band members and the audience. By this point Rose has rejoined her bandmates along side Rodriguez who at well over six feet tall commands the stage with an unavoidably tendency to dwarf everything and everyone around him. There’s still time for one last track from the most recent album with ‘Glimpse Of Infinity’ and prior to breaking into song, Rodriguez enlightens the audience of the inspiration behind the track.

Daniel Rodriguez and Friends live at the Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey. 17th November 2023.
photo: Graeme Tait

And thus, as if in the blink of an eye, it was time for the final number and a trip down memory lane, right back to 2008, and the Elephant Revival’s debut album with the anthemic ‘Sing To The Mountain’ that had the whole audience doing exactly that, encapsulating the sense of communion that resonated around the hall. Such was the immediate and raucous demand for an encore from the congregation that the four musicians never managed to leave the stage. That is until they had retrieved a couple of guitars at which point they came down to the floor becoming one with the audience and delivering such a spellbinding version of ‘Good Graces’, you could have heard a pin drop. Simply breathtaking.

About Graeme Tait 102 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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