Review: Allen Stone delivers a first-class soul show at the Echo

allen stone photo
Allen Stone at Santa Monica Pier

There’s no other way to say it, Allen Stone’s got PIPES. At his sold out show at The Echo last Thursday night, Stone hit every note as he proved to the crowd that he could’ve fit in any era of R&B.

It is of no surprise to find out that Stone grew up a pastor’s son. Many of the songs he performed with his large band had that gospel feel behind it, complete with Church Lady keyboards. Stone had the crowd in the palm of his hand, demanding them to sway back and forth to one song, grab hold of all their “bullshit” and toss it on stage during another.

Stone played through a number of new tracks, with “Voodoo” featuring the catchiest chorus. “What kind of voodoo do you do, what kind of voodoo do you do-do-do, what kind of witchcraft have I walked into, what kind of voodoo do you do,” Stone belted.

It’s hard to pick out high points when the entire set was impressive, but one was when Stone played his panty-dropping ballad “Unaware”. The song is in the vein of D’Angelo’s “Untitled”, though one would have difficulty picturing Stone singing his song naked the way D’Angelo did in his music video.

The other real high came when Stone covered the memorable Chaka Khan song “Tell Me Something Good”, which everyone in the room knew and sang and danced along to.

Stone closed his set with a two-song encore, the final song being a new and refreshing take on “that song you probably heard so much you started to turn off when it came on the radio”, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”.

As with the opening act Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas, Stone had to deal with some feedback issues from time to time. The drum solo ran a bit long during Stone’s set-closer and the somewhat impatient Los Angeles crowd got a bit restless. Despite that, Stone took everybody’s Thursday night to eleven, proving to fans young and old that rumors of soul’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Stone has his assortment of super fans, a few of which were right next to me. Like myself, one girl discovered Stone playing a music festival. She said that Stone was a hidden gem two years ago at Coachella as one of the sets that took place early in the day and now Allen Stone radio on Spotify is all she listens to.

My guess would be that some of those that knew little about Stone might become just as dedicated fans after Thursday.

Jessica Hernandez and the deltas photos

Photo: @jenjamjames

Set opener Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas ripped through an entertaining and upbeat set, though the crowd that gathered at The Echo early enough to take it in was mostly disrespectful.

For a small room like The Echo, it is a bummer when you’re around people that are caught up in their own bullshit and disregard that others around them may have showed up early to, you know, catch the opening band. One guy with neon green sunglasses just would not shut up and it detracted a bit from what was otherwise a solid performance.

When the band ripped their first riffs of the evening, I immediately thought of the film That Thing You Do about the fictitious 60’s band The Wonders. Many of their songs have that same kind of charm behind it, though Hernandez’s band boasts a talented trumpeter.

The song that this sound is best accomplished on is the fetching track “Sorry I Stole Your Man”. Hernandez captures that look and appeal of that girl you recognize as trouble but can’t help but be head over heels for.

The drums were a bit too overpowering for it being such a small room and it was sometimes difficult to make out the words Hernandez was singing, though tone wise they were perfect.

They’ve got great stage presence, and their banter in between songs was at times hilarious. One instance was when Hernandez drew attention to their accordion player being “single and ready to mingle” as well as having been “the largest baby ever born in his hospital”.

Words: Mark E. Ortega

Click here for photos from Allen Stone’s Santa Monica Pier performance with Aloe Blacc!

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