Gig review by Zak Edwards with Photography by Bianca Barrett

Leon Bridges

Having seen a certain Mr Leon Bridges once before in the tiny room at Birmingham’s Institute, the team at Gig Junkies were particularly excited for their jaunt ‘ooop North’ to Manchester’s Albert Hall to see the hottest prospect hailing from Atlanta Georgia since Kanye West.

Leon Bridges

Less regal in title than London’s venue of the same name, but no less impressive with its high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, the Albert Hall (Manchester) is a great place for Mancunian gig goers and there was certainly a crackle of anticipation in the air on Wednesday night whilst waiting to see Leon Bridges.

Grace

First up Grace an 18 year antipodean young lady all the way from Australia delivering her own brand of pop with hints of Jessie J and Amy Winehouse. Vocally talented, sassy and also prone to the odd rap the blonde hottie treated the crowd to 6 or so pop songs with her amazing vocal range and somewhat unsurprisingly threw in a cover of Amy’s Valerie whom she’d obviously taken a lot of inspiration from.

Leon Bridges

Props have to go out to Bridges for having without doubt the Worlds smartest roadies with at least 4 of them being suited and booted. There was also young lady amongst the road crew which was a novelty. After a small disaster was averted when one of the lighting rigs collapsed onto one of the crew and then it was on with the main event, much to the delight of the eager crowd.

Leon Bridges

Looking traditionally dapper in his checked jacket/beige chinos combo, Leon Bridges made his way to the stage armed with nothing more than his trusty guitar, a backing vocalist and as soon as he opened his mouth a mesmerising voice. There aren’t many moments when you’re instantly awestruck but for myself – as well as most of the crowd – this was one of them. Silky smooth, beautifully harmonious, perfectly tuneful and effortless these are just a few of many adjectives which can be used to describe the singer’s voice.

Leon Bridges

“Hello beautiful people. Are we ready to party?” asked the softly spoken singer as he was joined on stage by his equally dapper roadies – whom coincidentally were all mighty fine musicians too – and then launched into the energetic ‘Brown Skin’ and ‘Better Man’ amidst rhythmic dancing and oh so evident flirting with the ‘perty’ backing vocalist.

Leon Bridges

He then went on to treat the audience to a magical 90 minutes singing warm blues melodies about love, life and his good old mum to whom he dedicated song ‘Lisa Sawyer’. What becomes apparent when watching Bridges – aside his obvious talent – is his passion (some may say obsession) in all things soulful. His dress, his demeanour and obviously his musical direction are all a ‘nod’ to music of yesteryear from the soul genre. ‘Coming Home’ for example sounds like a soul standard which should have been recorded 50 years ago whilst ‘Twistin & Groovin’ sounds as you’d expect from a song with a self-prophesising title.

Leon Bridges

Refreshingly humble for one so talented, the singer had time to wish one reveller happy birthday and then spent time signing LP’s (yes vinyl) and t-shirts for fans, which apparently is something he does after every gig – not something you’d expect from a man who has racked up 3 million Youtube viewings and 12 million Spotify plays for his debut single.

Leon Bridges

Whilst complements can often be fleetingly made about todays artists, I don’t feel that comparisons to Sam Cooke and Otis Redding are without merit for this young American singer and I’m convinced – based on the strength of his album and the new songs to which he treated the audience – will become more commonplace in years to come. If you haven’t already seen or heard this young man then I genuinely think you should check him out. You won’t be disappointed.

Leon Bridges

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