The Lone Bellow @ Whelan’s, Dublin - 23rd August 2018

There are special moments that linger in the memory and remain, over time, even if we can never fully do justice to their elevated place and presence in the recounting.

Experiences that warm the soul and ensure that we continue to believe in the power of music to heal the spirit and lift the collective to a place of elevated awareness. Call it spiritual or just a bloody good night of spontaneous connection; all that seems important is the sense of community in being present at an event where something special happened.

Tonight, was one of those moments. When you marry a capacity crowd with a band whose power is at a creative peak, then the sprinkling of angel dust is palpable in the room and all are touched by the experience. A Lone Bellow gig has real fervour and intensity and the utter conviction in the performance of the music gives everybody present a sense of place in the grand scheme of things. We are somehow invited to share in the knowledge that our lives are bound by the same Universal glue.

To define the music of Lone Bellow as entirely celebratory is to miss the point that there are deeper emotions behind the words that fuel the revivalist, soulful performance of Zach Williams on lead vocals and acoustic/electric guitar; Kanene Donehey Pipkin on mandolin, bass, keyboard, vocals and Brian Elmquist on acoustic/electric guitar, vocals. The added talents of Jason Pipkin (bass and keys) and Julian Dorio (drums), provide a superbly tight base from which everybody can expand the song arrangements and Kanene switches instruments with husband Jason on a few occasions.

There are hidden layers of pain and life lessons learned behind the swell of melody and vocal harmony that leave the audience in admiration of a band that commit to a level of performance that is often breath-taking in its powerful delivery. The vocal dexterity of all three members is something to behold as they feed off the electric atmosphere and deliver fully on the art involved in creating a communal experience through the medium of music. 

The band visit all three releases, concentrating more on the latest, Walk Into A Storm, from last year. The set powers along with new heights being scaled on songs like Deeper In The Water, Green Eyes And A Heart Of Gold, Feather all the way along to the wonderful encore, Then Came The Morning. 

There are so many highlights that it seems churlish to pick out one over another, but the acoustic segment probably sums up the band ethic more than anything, with renditions of Call To War, Watch Over Us and Pink Rabbits (cover of The National song), stealing the moment, especially when the trio leave the stage and mix with the audience to sing off-mike. It is a perfect example of communal sharing and trust and a key element in the warmth shared. It was a privilege to be there.

Review and photograph by Paul McGee