Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 3.16.10 PMWords – Erin Shea

Stepping into the John Varvatos’ Bowery Live space at 315 Bowery is like stepping into rock ‘n’ roll heaven. There were pictures, posters, set lists and other paraphernalia covering the walls, which pay tribute to the venue’s former inhabitant, the legendary CBGB.

To set the mood for Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, the specialty drinks contained “moonshine.” Having lived in Kentucky, I do have to say that this was not the real, made-in-a-bathtub moonshine, but it did taste good.

After getting some “moonshine,” I headed back to stake out a good spot for the show. I ended up near the front next to some older man wearing a CBGB shirt and smoking out of a one-hitter.

Everyone in the crowd seemed to immediately stop what they were doing as soon as Lukas Nelson walked onto the stage. He was barefoot and of course joined by the band, the Promise of the Real — made up of bassist Corey McCormick, percussionist Tato Melgar and drummer Anthony Logerfo.

Nelson seemed majestic for the first few minutes as he jammed on stage with his band. He was playing with his eyes closed with his long hair flowing around his face. The photographers went crazy and so did everyone else who had a smartphone. With all the hands in the air, it was almost easier to just watch the show off of the screen in front of me instead of moving around others to see.

As they began to play, people calmed down with the photos. Nelson introduced “I’m Giving You Away,” by telling the quick story of how it came to be.

“A friend of mine asked me to play a Bob Dylan song for his daughter’s wedding when they have their dance,” he said. “But instead, I wrote one for them that morning.”

Then, they began to bring the energy back up with some hard-core shredding and intense solos. Everyone in the band got their chance to be front and center to show off their skills.

Nelson got so into McCormick’s bass plucking that he started waving his hands in the air almost like some sort of rock ‘n’ roll conductor and then just stopped to watch McCormick in bewilderment with the rest of the crowd.

Although they only played a handful of songs, each song was a masterpiece in itself with the solos and with Nelson and McCormick playing off of one another. It was brilliant in a way. Most of the time, Nelson played with his eyes closed and the whole band seemed to feel each other and improvise off one another, which made for a great live show.

They ended the set with another long jam session and over-exaggerated ending with Nelson and McCormick jumping around on stage.

When they finished, the crowd started chanting, “One more song! One more song!”

To which, Nelson replies, “We have time for one more. Here’s a little tribute to Neil Young.”

They launch into “Down by the River” as if it was planned and the remaining crowd dances and sings along.

After the second big finish, Nelson sets down his guitar, says thank you and shakes hands with a number of people in the front row thanking them for being there.

Setlist:
-Intro jam
-Don’t Take Me Back
-Four Letter Word
-I’m Giving You Away
-Toppers
-Set Me Down
-Sympathy for the Devil
-2012 The Happy Ending
-Down by the River (Encore)

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