Photo credits: @NathanArmstrong
What a Memphis weekend. With the Tigers taking down a fierce Kansas team (ha), Cooper Young Fest happening, and all other kinds of events, we should have been content, right? Like, all of those things should have been enough. But no, we just had to get a little more Memphis.
Leon Bridges is a Fort Worth native but his music has Memphis roots, there’s no doubt. The rebirth of 60’s R&B is like something straight out of 926 E McLemore Ave, Memphis, TN 38126. I recently took a trip to the Stax Museum and couldn’t help but have flashbacks at this show. From Bridges’ dapper attire, to the funky gospel chops his band played, all the way to his Sam Cooke stage presence, I thought he stepped out of a time machine.
The night started off with London artist, Lianne La Havas, the perfect appetizer for Bridges. Havas strolled out on stage with a beautiful sunburst finished guitar that was almost bigger than her. Adding the city of Memphis to her lyrics, she grooved the crowd with staccato guitar riffs under lyrics that told her life story. Havas covered, “I Say a Little Prayer,” by Aretha Franklin, which she described as the best song ever written. Havas’ music blended so well with the mood of the night it was hard to say goodbye, but she left the stage to her original, “Midnight.”
Leon Bridges was up next, and from the moment his sax player erupted the notes of, “Smooth Sailin’” the night was ripe. His famous line from the night was when he proposed the question, “does Memphis have the juice?” To which Memphis responded a resounding, “Yes.” The crowd never stopped moving, and neither did Bridges. A true performer, he didn’t allow for much of a break between songs and kept the night moving.
I truly felt like I was in a time warp, back-to-the-future style, and I was watching R&B get invented all over again. Leon Bridges is not just a concert, it’s a field trip. He took me to church, the club, and even took me back home with his music. Leon Bridges as far as I am concerned, Memphis blood is running through your veins. So please, come back anytime.