On December 5th, 2023, The Lone Bellow performed at The Theater at Innovation Square in Rochester, NY. Stephen Wilson Jr. would be the opening act for the show. Fans of all ages slowly trickled into the medium-sized venue while waiting for the doors to open at 6:45 PM.
Both artists had recently released new albums in late 2023. I was looking forward to the show as I had never seen either perform live in concert.
Kicking off the show at 7:45 PM was singer/songwriter Stephen Wilson Jr. Taking the stage with a well-worn acoustic guitar, the Seymour, Indiana native was a crowd pleaser from the first song. His set was filled with heartfelt stories of his past and being raised by his single dad, with a mix of dry humor. Before every song, he told a story behind the meaning of the lyrics. A favorite of mine was a story of smoking, skateboarding, and listening to Nirvana, then going into the song Year to Be Young 1994. Fans were treated to some excellent slide guitar playing by Scotty Murray. Julian Dorio of The Lone Bellow helped out on the drums for the performance. The unique-sounding songs had the fans on their feet by the end of the set and gave Stephen Wilson Jr. a standing ovation!
Stephen Wilson Jr. are: Stephen Wilson Jr - vocals/guitar, Scotty Murray - slide guitar/vocals - Julian Dorio (The Lone Bellow) - drums
Setlist: Billy, Cucko, Kid, Year to Be Young 1994, The Devil, Holler From the Holler, per Setlist FM
After a short intermission, The Lone Bellow took the stage around 8:30 PM to a thunderous applause. Formed in 2013 in Brooklyn, New York, the band is celebrating their tenth anniversary on the road with their tour, "It's (Still) Alright 10-year Anniversary Tour." From the first note of the show, you could feel the positive energy from the band. The vocals and combined harmonies of Zach Williams, Kanene Donehey Pipkin, and Brian Elmquist were mesmerizing. The venue was filled with sweet sounds. While many times throughout the show, fans could be heard singing along with the band! In between songs were some quiet moments and stories, reflecting on the origins of the music. Zach Williams spoke of a particular horse on his Uncle’s farm, which led into Fire Red Horse, which he stated: “was from their first album”. The show went from soft, slow moments, like a gentle breeze to more upbeat vibes during energetic songs. Williams explained, “It’s been 10 years since we have been in Rochester, we played the Lilac Festival…10 Years..well that’s not going to happen again”! The audience then cheered wildly. The band played a fantastic fifteen-song set, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I think Count On Me, Green Eyes & A Heart of Gold, You Never Need Nobody, and Then Came The Morning Light were standouts for me. The show was winding down with The One You Should’ve Let Go and as the last note faded away, the band left the stage waving to the fans. With loud cheers, screams, and whistles, band members came back to the stage for an encore performance. Zach Williams took the microphone, thanked the fans, and asked if they wanted Stephen Wilson Jr. back on stage. With loud cheers, Wilson Jr. came on stage with his well-worn guitar. He then played an amazing version of his song Grief Is Only Love with the trio from The Lone Bellow joining in on harmonies and backing vocals. It was a memorable moment of just a guitar and four voices filling the room with a touching song! The final song of the evening was Then Came The Morning with full audience participation in the chorus. It was a great song to close the show. It was 10:05 PM when the house lights came on and smiling fans left the venue. If you want to hear what I heard, check out the November 2023 release of the band's album, The Lone Bellow Live.
The Lone Bellow are: Zach Williams - vocals/guitar, Kanene Donehey Pipkin - vocals/bass/mandolin - Brian Elmquist - vocals/guitar, Jason Pipkin - bass/keyboard, Julian Dorio - drums
Setlist: Honey, Count On Me, Green Eyes & A Heart Of Gold, Tree To Grow, Two Sides Of Lonely, You Never Need Nobody, You Can Be All Kinds Of Emotional, You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To, Fire Red Horse, Bleeding Out, Looking For You, Teach Me To Know, The One You Should’ve Let Go
Encore: Grief Is Only Love with Stephen Wilson Jr., Then Came The Morning