The Lone Bellow at the Neptune Theater in Seattle, WA on 02/08/23

The Lone Bellow

A couple in a long term relationship attended a picture-perfect wedding. Everything was going well until the trip back home. That’s when the boyfriend proclaimed that they should just be friends. To make matters worse, the shocking news was revealed to the girlfriend at the beginning of their twelve-hour drive back home.  On the bright side, the heartbreaking story resulted in the ex-girlfriend winning a contest conducted by the roots rock band The Lone Bellow. She received a trophy and a spotlight to tell her tale to the Seattle audience. Before the tour, fans were asked to share their stories of love gone wrong. A Champion of Sorrow was picked for every stop of the band’s Love Songs for Losers tour

Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist, and Kanene Pipkin are The Lone Bellow. They formed in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY and have earned a devoted following after years of constant touring. The musicians have previously recorded with world-renowned producers Aaron Dessner (The National, Taylor Swift) and Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile). For their fifth studio album Love Songs for Losers, they decided to produce it themselves at Roy Orbison’s old lake house in Nashville, TN. Williams described it as “beautiful during the day and scary at night.” The musicians played new material as well as old favorites. The band’s beautiful harmonies bounced off the walls in the historic Neptune Theatre that was built in 1921 as a state of the art silent movie house.

Williams, who sings lead on the majority of the tunes, pours out all of his feelings into the lyrics (I felt like he really needed a hug). Brian Elmquist’s wonderful guitar playing as well as Anne Pipkin’s thumping bass added rich textures to the songs. However, The Lone Bellow’s signature sound materialized when the three sang harmonies together.

After performing the well known You Never Need Nobody and Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold, they introduced the winner of their Love Songs for Losers contest (a tragic story of despair makes an excellent transition into the new material). The songs are about small town memories, opioid epidemic, and current/past loves (not one song about a long road trip home from a wedding).

Kanene Pipkin stepped away from her bass to belt out Cost of Living – ” I Can’t afford the cost of living/If you don’t pay me no attention.” It’s a torch-song about heartbreak (and possibly the recession). It also revealed the power of Pipkins voice.

Towards the end of the concert The Lone Bellow performed Count On Me – “When it shakes you/When no one will say it/And you need to hear the truth/Let it break you/Let it help you lay down what you held onto.”

When the band finished their set, Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) played over the house speakers. Elmquist returned to twirl around to the music while the crowd cheered.

See you at the next show. I’ll be the one wondering if any more contest winners will be taking the spotlight.

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