Royal Oak, Michigan – (April 27, 2018) – It was your typical early Friday night in Royal Oak, MI, as the crowd started gathering outside of the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Still a bit too early for the bar crowd, but there was still a buzz on the streets nonetheless – something that Michigan’s own Lord Huron definitely played a part in. One week removed from kicking off their headlining tour in Grand Rapids, MI, and celebrating the release of the group’s third studio album, Vide Noir, that same day, they were met with a sold-out crowd tonight! Sellouts aren’t exactly a surprise with their latest album sitting at #9 on the Billboard Top 200.
Taking the stage prior to Lord Huron was Nashville, Tennessee-based, Liz Cooper & The Stampede, a three-piece group with a sound that will take you on a trip from psych to folk to ambient rock. Not to take away from the music, but orange flower print design on the kick drum made its way to the outfit Liz wore on stage in the form of an identical one-piece jumpsuit.
Cooper has a delightfully raspy sound that made it easy to get lost in her vocals, that is if you aren’t already lost in the random jam sessions the band would break into. Speaking of which, that is exactly how they finished up their set – a fantastic had-to-have-been 10-minute long guitar and drum solo. I might be exaggerating a bit there, but no doubt – it was incredible.
Lord Huron walked out to a full house under the eerie green glow of the “Vide Noir” cover art adorning the back of the stage. Starting off quietly before the drums and guitar kick in, “Ancient Names (Part 1)” set the tone with a sound that is a bit more cosmic and ethereal than what fans may have expected compared to previous albums. They jumped into something a little more familiar though with, “Meet Me in the Woods” from 2015’s Strange Trails, and after only two songs the crowd was already singing along with every word.
Midway through the set perhaps my favorite song off the latest album was played, “Wait By the River”. I love how it calls back to a bit of old-school Motown and doo-wop flair that caused a bit of slow dancing in the crowd; something you don’t see all that often at a live show. It makes a bit of sense too if you could have seen the dance moves of frontman Ben Schneider as he was moving in ways that would make you think Chubby Checker was on stage.
The regular set closed out with two songs; one being the title track, “Vide Noir” and the other “The World Ender.” “Vide Noir” brought on that same feeling of floating on the astral plane we were all introduced to when the group took the stage earlier in the evening; while “The World Ender”, although being a modern track, always takes my mind back a few decades with a sound that reminds of something out of an old western movie.
The encore consisted of two songs; one of which is arguably the artists most popular track to date, “The Night We Met”. A beautifully haunting song about love, loss, and letting go. This song saw the only use of the disco ball above the stage that came on the after the first two lines of the first chorus, “I had all and then most of you, some and now none of you”.
Lord Huron is a band with a special place in my heart – not only because their music speaks to me, but also because they were the first concert my daughters ever attended. Even having only been 3 and 4 at the time, they still both bring it up and ask when they’ll get to go to another one. I suppose it will just have to happen, won’t it? It was an amazing night and a lovely journey through the music as Lord Huron’s sound continues to evolve.
“Ancient Names (Part I)”
“Meet Me in the Woods”
“Ends of the Earth”
“Dead Man’s Hand”
“Back from the Edge”
“The Balancer’s Eye”
“Wait by the River”
“La Belle Fleur Sauvage”
“Fool for Love”
“Ancient Names (Part II)”
“The World Ender”
“The Night We Met”
“Time to Run”
Photojournalist: David Painter