Anderson East Review – El Rey Theatre – March 1, 2018

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For those who love tennis, you may know that Roger Federer is famous for bringing back net play in men’s tennis. The majority of men’s players had reverted to making moves from the baseline in the late 2000’s. But, Federer wasn’t afraid to get right in his opponents face and take a chance at failing by doing something unconventional at the time. It takes tremendous courage and an even greater ego to take a stand like that. Similarily, Anderson East’s performing style is almost alien in a sea of artists who rotate band members like their outfits and stand at least 10 feet away from the audience. East may be one of the last rhythm and blues artists that consistently gets right up to the crowd and engages with the audience and his band. It’s what make him one of the most impressive live performers out there, despite not having the most pristine vocals or unique lyrics.

I saw East perform at the Troubadour two years ago and what struck me instantly when he arrived on stage at the El Rey Theatre was that he had managed to retain the same incredible musicians in his band (an almost impossible feat) and his earnestness is still infectious. Anderson projects himself as a genuinely good person who is grateful to be on tour with people he loves, doing what he loves. But, it is clear to anyone with eyes that he is hurting. Gossip blogs I read after the concert indicate the hurt is personal. Perhaps that is why his ballads such as If You Keep Leaving Me and King For A Day seemed to connect more than his more upbeat singles Girlfriend and Devil In Me.

The last time I left an Anderson East concert, I danced to his songs for at least a week. This time, I left tearing up and reflecting on life and past relationships. It is a testament to East’s authenticity that he can evoke such different emotions at two different concerts. You never know what you’re going to get with him and that’s what makes it worth seeing this Alabama native again and again.

Review: 8.5/10

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