With all of the rain of late, I was a little worried that Louisville may wash away before this show happened. Thankfully though, the river city is fine and the show continues. On the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby, Sevendust rolled into town in support of their newest acoustic release titled Time Travelers & Bonfires. (We reviewed the album here if interested.) The stop was held at one of Louisville’s newest live music venues, The Mercury Ballroom. Nestled just down the street from the elegant, amazing and seated Louisville Palace, The Mercury is a (mostly) standing room only treasure that has a nice balcony and terrific views from every angle. With a 900 person capacity, it’s the perfect venue for this intimate, stripped down, acoustic show.
As the lights dimmed, the candles appeared and the band slowly took their spots onstage. Wasting no time, the band immediately tore into Trust. The song also kicked off the acoustic live album Southside Double Wide, so that was certainly appropriate. The intensity and beauty of Trust brought the Louisville crowd closer to the stage and with the mood set, we were off and running. Next up were Prayer and Crucified, which eventually led into Xmas Day. This was the first song on the night where guitarist Clint Lowery took the lead vocals and Lajon Witherspoon sang backup. It’s always great to hear Clint and I hoped we’d see something in the set from him.
Under It All and the biggest singalong up to that point, Skeleton Song, gave way to The Wait. That performance was an exceptionally touching moment, as Lajon spoke of the losses within the bands families and how those losses were deeply rooted in the inspiration of the song. In particular, he spoke of guitarist John Connolly and how he recently lost his Father. Leaving his stool behind, Lajon reached out to the fans, but from my vantage point, he stood up for a completely different reason. Albeit subtle, Lajon walked over to simply squeeze John’s shoulder. As if he was letting him know things will be better and the band will always be there for him. I know we were there for the music, but that was my favorite moment of the entire show and a true testament to the integrity of Lajon and the brotherhood of the entire band.
Following that up was the one song that has always stood the test of time for me, at least where Sevendust is concerned, Denial. No matter the incarnation of the song, I always find myself losing it. Trust me when I tell you that the acoustic version is certainly a little less intense, but the emotion is there and I did indeed lose myself. The groove in that song is one that just forces you to move, even in it’s slowed down state. There’s no getting away from it, at least not for me.
After introducing their keyboardist Kurt Wubbenhorst, Lajon spoke about how Sevendust doesn’t have concerts, they have family reunions. Seeing how Clint once lived in Louisville, this show definitely fit that bill. In fact, taking a moment to fool around with bits and pieces of some cover songs, really did give it a back porch kind of feel. Well, except for the flashing lights and killer sound system. Ha! The band toyed with Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield, Stairway to Heaven by the mighty Led Zeppelin and an extended, hilarious Clint Lowery led version of Jump by Van Halen. The Van Halen stint included a great, stiff impersonation of the one and only Alex Van Halen. Good times always create great memories and the band certainly did that for many at the Mercury Ballroom.
After ending the main set with Gone, the band took a small intermission before coming back out for a rather spirited mini-set for the encore. Kicking it off was a one of the brand new tracks from the acoustic album titled Come Down. It was great to see just well that song fit into the setlist, but it was the second song that really sparked the crowd. As Clint once again took over the vocals for his rendition of the Trent Reznor penned classic Hurt. Which of course was made immortal by the legendary Johnny Cash and was originally released on the aforementioned Southside Double Wide. The crowd had been waiting for the moment to become complete putty in the hands of Sevendust and this was it.
Next up was Karma and Lajon mentioned how the band hadn’t really played the song live, so it was tough to rework it for the album and especially tough to bring it out on the road. After hearing the live version and feeling the power in Lajon’s voice, this is truly a situation where the fans actually did know what was best, as the rendition was fantastic live. After Got a Feeling and the MONSTROUS singalong of Angel Son, the band ended the night with the current single from Time Travelers & Bonfires. Black was the knockout punch needed to finally end this bout. In the city that is home to Muhammad Ali, Sevendust floated like a butterfly, but stung like a bee.
For the first time in a long time, I can say this concert was enjoyable from start to finish. It really didn’t feel like a concert if I’m honest. It felt like just hanging out with old friends, while they happened to be playing some fantastic music. The experience was a breath of fresh air for me. Hopefully it will be for you as well. Click here to find a tour date near you.