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Concert Review: Ivan & Alyosha/The Lone Bellow at Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA

iandaIvan & Alyosha
The Lone Bellow

April 20, 2013
Brighton Music Hall
Allston, MA
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber

It was an emotional night to see a show in Boston on Saturday.  With the Marathon bombing on Monday, a lockdown the day before and the cancellation of all shows in the area, it was questionable as to whether or not this concert would even take place.  Lone Bellow female vocalist Kanene Doheney Pipkin even commented on the extreme energy of the crowd, “did somebody just let you all out of your houses?”  The bands were sweet to us and present with the high-running emotions of the night’s audience.  Opener Twin Forks even began the night with a short Augustana cover of “I Think I’ll Go To Boston” to pay respect to the crazy week we’d all just endured.

It was a truly outstanding night of music, which it was likely to be even if we weren’t all feeling rabidly uncaged.  Lone Bellow is, not exaggerated, one of the best bands I have *ever* seen live.  While featuring incredibly strong 3-part harmonies, lead singer Zach Williams takes the performance to an unworldly level.  He was showering himself from inside-out with fountainous perspiration, and his wails were as powerful as Glen Hansard’s; it was the kind of singing that looks almost painful to endure because it’s more of a compulsion than an art (though it’s certainly that, too).

Ivan & Alyosha played onstage as a brotherhood of five, with a drummer in the back and 3 guitars/1 bass up front.  All four men on strings sang intricate harmonies that blended into breezy echos of lead singer Tim Wilson.  Some of the more anthemic songs like “Running for Cover” were reminiscent of Temper Trap, and were similarly cinematic.  Sometimes the harmonies could even get a little barbershop-y, like in their single “Be Your Man,” while still maintaining an Arcade Fire-style downbeat.  I especially enjoyed the song “God or Man,” which began as Wilson singing a smokey ballad, and slowly built to a juicy last minute, crafting the largest sonic wall and featuring the most animation of their entire set.

A night of 3- and 4-part harmonies, shakers, and mandolins, the evening was an all-around success for a crowd in need of some levity.  That said, I think the show suffered from being a bit mis-billed.  Ivan & Alyosha are a superior recorded artist – their new release, All The Times We Had, is outstanding for lovers of folk, indie, and can function as subdued background music or something to deeply contemplate.  In contrast, I think listening to The Lone Bellow recorded is, with few exceptions, a big yawn – the angst in their live performance just cannot be adequately captured on record – it’s too compressed, and loses the rawness of the live set.  While it would make sense to have the superior recorded artist headline the set, given that both artists became more popular with the aid of NPR featurettes, it appeared virtually the whole audience had seen the Lone Bellow’s Tiny Desk Concert, which was a total game-changer.  In a way I’d never seen before for a professional show, people knew all the lyrics to the opening band, and about a quarter of the crowd left before the headliners.  I think Ivan & Alyosha, despite being totally on point for their set, just couldn’t compete with the energy of The Lone Bellow, and while the crowd remained engaged, there was a noticeable drop in oomph.  I’d have suggested swapping the order of Lone Bellow/Ivan & Alyosha so they’d been part of the build-up instead of the cool-down, and to have billed them as co-headliners, which is effectively what they wound up being.  In either case, it was a well-timed night of incredible music – a celebration of freedom taken to new heights as a result of heartfelt performance.

Lone Bellow Setlist:

  1. You Can Be All Kinds of Emotional
  2. You Never Need Nobody
  3. Two Sides Of Lonely
  4. Tree To Grow
  5. Green Eyes And A Heart Of Gold
  6. You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To
  7. Watch Over Us
  8. Bleeding Out
  9. The One You Should’ve Let Go
  10. Teach Me To Know

Ivan & Alyosha Setlist:

  1. Be Your Man
  2. Fathers Be Kind
  3. Easy To Love
  4. I Was Born To Love Her
  5. God Or Man
  6. Glorified
  7. Don’t Wanna Die Anymore
  8. The Fold
  9. On My Way
  10. Who Are You
  11. Running For Cover
  1. Beautiful Lie
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