Opening for the 2019 Zac Brown Band stadium tour, contributing to the 2018’s Star is Born soundtrack, and playing around the globe for the past ten-years has exposed the talents of Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real to a larger audience (having an icon for a father might of helped as well). Consequently, a snowy Wednesday night didn’t stop fans from selling out the Ogden Theatre.
There was no opening act, but the quintet was forty minutes late starting the show. All was forgiven when they stepped on to the stage. Nelson introduced the band and immediately launched into a night of music that spread across the musical genres of Americana, Country, and Rock and Roll.
There is definitely a similarity in the voices of Lukas Nelson and his father Willie Nelson especially in their vibrato. But Lukas has his own distinct style. His stage presence is more like James Brown than Willie. Lukas is a masterful guitar player as well. The band covered Jimmi Hendrix’s Pali Gap and Nelson played it masterfully.
The band was basically required to play their song Colorado for the mile-high crowd. Nelson wrote the song after hearing about the death of his favorite high school teacher. He sang it from the perspective of the deceased educator, “Colorado/ You have taken my true love away/ I can’t understand why she loves me today/ Let me stay.” Another tear-jerker performed was Me and Paul from Willie Nelson’s 1971 album Yesterday’s Wine. It was a tribute to Willie’s drummer Paul English who recently died at the age of eighty-seven.
An additional standout was Runnin’ Shine about his family’s colorful history. Nelson sang, “And luckily my father knew/ And I could learn a thing or two/ About running and securing revenue/ Keeping up with changing times/ Dodging governmental fines.”
The song that made multi-instrumentalist Logan Metz (who looks like a young Dave Grohl) smile the biggest was their cover of Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Souls of her Shoes. The entire band including drummer Anthony LoGerfo, percussionist Toto Melgar, and bassist Corey McCormick (in his large burgundy hat) all sang the Zulu chorus originally recorded by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
The band ended with The Awakening an Allman Brother like jam that showcased the talented musicians. After the show, the band shook hands, signed autographs, and took selfies with anyone that wanted them (just like Willie Nelson does at the end of his performances).
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one in the large burgundy hat running about forty minutes late.