Monday, December 21, 2015

Concert Review: Civil Twilight and Kopecky at Iron City, Birmingham, Alabama 12/18/15

If you haven't noticed, things are starting to get a bit crazy around this fine music blog.  And I absolutely love it.

A couple months ago, Fran let me know that we could be getting some shows to review due to some new contacts he's made in the business.  I was hopeful and encouraging but didn't expect much since we're just really starting to roll but I was wrong.  Business has picked up and that's a very good thing for us music junkies. 

So far, my concert reviews have been shows I've elected to attend because I'm a fan of the band and I've used my own hard earned money to buy the tickets.  When things started picking up for press pass/gratis tickets, I was worried I might not really be into my first assignment.  Don't get me wrong.  If I'm reviewing a show, I'll give it my all even if I don't really identify with the sound.  Music is music and I'm a addict.  But in the case of my first official review, I shouldn't have worried.

Fran let me know I had passes to see Civil Twilight.  I was immediately excited because I loved their 2010 debut single "Letters From The Sky". 

Civil Twilight are a band hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, made up of brothers Steven (lead vocals, keyboard, and bass guitar), and Andrew (guitar) McKellar, Richard Wouters (drums), and Kevin Dailey (keyboards, backing vocals).

"Letters From The Sky" got my attention because I'm a lyric whore and the lyrics to this song are absolutely breathtaking and I'm also a sucker for a hot dude playing the piano.  There it is.  I'm sorry. 

No.  I'm not.  

Back to the lyrics:

"That you and I were made for this.
I was made to taste your kiss.
We were made to never fall away. 
Never fall away."

Pardon me while I swoon.

It's a simply beautiful song.  And also one that was featured in the promo video for WWE's WrestleMania 29 between The Rock and John Cena.  Let that sink in. 

The concert I attended Friday night at Iron City Birmingham was sold out and put together by Birmingham Mountain Radio.  The acts consisted of Civil Twilight, Kopecky, and Moon Taxi.  My passes were from the folks who manage Civil Twilight so I was there to review them only but I stayed for Kopecky and was pleasantly surprised.  More on that later, though.

Civil Twilight opened up their part of the show with a no frills, low key intro to a set which included their best from the two albums they've released so far, "Civil Twilight" and "Holy Weather".  It was the perfect mix, in my opinion, to give to a crowd both unfamiliar with their music and the ones who knew every word by heart.  The songs performed included the above "Letters From The Sky", "Oh Daniel", "Holy Dove", "Please Don't Find Me" and of course, "Story Of An Immigrant".

The highlight of their set, in my opinion, was "Letters From The Sky" and then an incredibly moving live performance of "Please Don't Find Me".  The latter was spiced up from the original with a mournful, wailing, entirely beautiful guitar solo, and I wish that version was available to the public.  It was simply stunning and completely heartbreaking at the same time.  This is from a different show but will give you a taste of the soul that saturated the concert version.

When their set was done, the band took cell phones from front row fans and snapped selfies from the stage, which I thought was really cool and fun.  My daughter and I moved to a side wall to people watch and wait for the next act.  It was a great spot to watch the guys from the band trickle out from backstage, wandering into the crowd looking totally unassuming, blending into the flow, unnoticed by everyone.

Everyone but us.  We noticed.    

My daughter, Grace, tagged along with me to the concert and had been binge listening to Civil Twilight since I'd found out I had the assignment.  She loved them, we bought her a tee shirt, and oh yeah...  This happened. 

We ran into Steven at the merch table while perusing the band's tee shirts.  I asked him if I could take a picture of him with Grace.  He said yes and he's absolutely amazing to have done so.  Gracie is still on Cloud Nine over it and they now have a new lifelong fan.

If you want a night of stunning, soulful, inspiring music,  go see Civil Twilight the next time they're in your town.  The version of "Please Don't Find Me" I heard on Friday night was worth it alone, although I thoroughly enjoyed the whole show.

Kind of off topic but also very stunning is the band's cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop".  Besides The Twilight Singers cover of "Live With Me", I've never heard a Massive Attack cover so well done.  Bravo, boys.  

We also stayed for Kopecky.  I had listened to their stuff on Spotify earlier in the week and just didn't really mesh with their sound.  But live, they take on an entirely new form.  I don't mean that they sound different necessarily but I immensely enjoyed the live version.  They were upbeat, sounded great, and just energized the crowd with their sound.  What sounded kind of bubblegum pop-ish on their albums turned into an incredibly talented group and sound live.  Go see them if you get the chance!

I hope you enjoyed my first assigned concert review.  Thank you so much to Civil Twilight and the people who made this happen for us.  I look forward to many more shows, exploring, discovering, and getting to know other acts.

Till next time, y'all.


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