As I sit down to write this I feel ever so slightly overwhelmed. It’s not as much that I can’t find the words but rather that the words that I’m equipped with, in my vocabulary, are not strong enough. Lewis Capaldi and his unquestionably sold out show did more than leave a mark, he made in impact. Entering the venue for the second time this week there was no doubt that this was going to be an experience worth retelling. The usually forgiving concourse of First Avenue was filled to the brim. It’s no exaggeration when I say that at certain points of the evening the bathroom was nigh unreachable as everyone who’d made it inside was glued to their spot. Save the occasional refill every member of the crowd last night was adamant about not losing their post.
The music kicked off promptly at 7 p.m. Saint Phnx, a band whos name you may have missed under the colossal spelling of Lewis Capaldi, were first to the stage. A modest three piece band from Glasgow Scotland, their set was anything but. Saint Phnx could be best described as lightning released from a bottle though even that seems to sell them a bit short. These three were showmen and the effort and energy put into their music as well as their live gig was among the first high of many to come. The three Scottish lads did not hold still as the cheers coursed through their veins, bounding off the stage and back on in the same second. The movement of this group and cohesion they presented made for an all around entertaining watch. There was none of the usual hiding behind a drum set/keyboard/synth. The boys were in town and they wanted you to know it. Where their performance felt like lightning the percussion felt like thunder. The virtuoso guitarist at multiple points in the set dropped to his knees to perform. While this was more than likely just a layer of theatrics I like to think he needed all the energy his body could produce to funnel through his fingers, or in one instance a bow? While I’m sure that many in the audience were in the same boat as me having never heard of Saint Phnx, I am absolutely convinced that just as many left as new fans having already added songs of theirs to the queue for the ride home.
If his career in music were to for whatever reason be cut short I’ve no doubt he could be just as successful as a comic. Simply put Lewis Capaldi is charm. His wit was effortless and natural, as if he had not just performed two of the most tragic songs to hit the radio this year. He made sure to let all in attendance know that if they were fans of rock and roll that they were sure at the wrong gig. Launching into a song after a bit that would put most late night hosts to shame the emotion came unhinged. Everyone in the venue was there to feel and that’s all that we did for the next 75 minutes. Over the course of the show Lewis would take little intermissions to talk once again to the crowd. I love these parts of the show nearly as much as the songs I’d come to watch. They were comical and added an excellent balance to the show because if you’re at all familiar with Lewis and his music you’d know that his songs are anything but cheerful. They are beautifully crafted and stunning pieces of music but at the same time devastatingly melancholy.
His banter came by way of hassling his keyboard player who he’d asserted was there for money while Lewis himself was there for the adoration of his fans. He took time to discuss what makes American Crowds unique, chat with a fan who wanted to sing on stage with him, and let a little girl just 10 years old know that swearing is “Fucking Cool.” All of this in between songs that would make the the bottom lip of any self proclaimed tough guy quiver. Highlights for me within the set list are simply my favorite songs by him, simple as that. The song Maybe and it’s sickeningly familiar chorus was an absolute treat as my favorite track off the record though One definitely gave it a run for its money as the lump in my throat made it harder to sing along.
One final bit of banter as Lewis mentioned that normally they don’t bother with the walking off stage however he “really had to piss” as he so poetically put it. So he said let’s play along with the charade. “I’ve got one more song Minneapolis” he stared before pulling away from the mic and winking. His ‘encore’ was the track that currently sits at number three on the US charts, ‘Someone you Loved.’ The young woman he’d chatted with earlier about singing on stage came up and together they sang, and to his surprise she wasn’t quite as terrible a singer as the rest of the people he’d admittedly let on stage in the past. After the brief duet he played the song again this time harmonizing with the entire venue in a way best described as euphoric. As far as a full set list goes, just listen to his album it’s fucking brilliant. It was surreal and cathartic and so much more all at once and while I was already a fan going in I think everyone who left the show last night left a fan.