Findlay Brown is a tall man, with even taller hair, but holding the attention of a roomful of Shelby Lynne fans proved a tall order Thursday night at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood.
Armed with only an acoustic guitar, a disarming smile and a handful of heartfelt but featherweight songs, the 29-year-old Londoner kicked off a 22-date U.S. tour supporting Lynne by mining the tender moments on his sophomore release Love Will Find You. But if the former bare-knuckle boxer wanted to tenderize any of the chatty early arrivals who disrespected his quietude, it never showed.
From his opener, "Separated by the Sea" (the title track off his 2007 debut album), to the finish, "Everybody Needs Love" (which he rather hilariously false-started after a female fan blurted out "You're hot!"), Brown minded the finest traditions of the folk troubadour: familiarity, sincerity and humility.
"This is a very old traditional song I've just written," he said with a impish smile, introducing "Nobody Cared," which, along with the beefier, crowd-silencing title track from his album, was one of the highlights of the evening. His mid-set cover of the 1963 James Bond theme "From Russia With Love" kept things interesting, but mainly the man in the black jacket and black jeans let his silky tenor and sneaky couplets win over the restless audience.
As for Lynne, who on this night had even taller hair than her pompadoured opener, the show was a coming-out party for her 11th album, Tears, Lies, and Alibis, released this week. She was as resplendent as anyone wearing a white sleeveless undershirt could possibly be, full of lively banter and touching songs about fools in love, foolish family, Airstream trailers and old dogs.
Fronting a six-piece band, the 2001 Grammy winner played her new album front to back -- and so deftly it felt more like a conversation than a performance -- detouring only to throw darts at the record labels with whom she's famously wrestled. Tears is out on her own newly founded imprint, Everso, which, depending on how you count, is either her seventh or eighth label.
"I had to take care of some business earlier this year, and I started my own record label," she explained near the end of the 75-minute set, "because I'm tired of those cats. If there's any record label people here, y'all can suck it."
Then she put those sentiments to melody: "There are people who would kill you / If I just give them a call / And when the job is said and done / I'd have no regrets at all."
To a roomful of would-be hitmen, it sounded like a hit.
Findlay Brown setlist:
Separated by the Sea
Teardrops Lost in the Rain
You Helped Me Change
From Russia With Love
I Had a Dream
Love Will Find You
If I Could Do It Again (I'd Do It With You)
Everybody Needs Love
Shelby Lynne setlist:
Why Didn't You Call Me
Like a Fool
Something to Be Said
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