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Fans flocked to Boston’s Roadrunner on Jan. 28 for Gregory Alan Isakov’s latest stop on his much anticipated nationwide tour. The South African singer-songwriter was joined on stage by a five-piece band featuring guitarists Steve Varney and Danny Black, violinist Jeb Bows, bassist John Paul Grigsby, and drummer Max Barcelow. The anticipation in the audience was palpable as Isakov, sporting a casual outfit and a brown brimmed hat, walked onto the darkened stage with his guitar.
Isakov kicked off the evening with “Southern Star,” a song off of his most recent album, 2018’s “Evening Machines.”
“It’s so damn good to be here,” he said as he proceeded to play “Dark, Dark, Dark,” which he referred to as his “only happy song.” He followed up the somber track with fan favorite “San Luis,” both featured on “Evening Machines.” The interaction between Isakov and the audience during these songs set a spirited tone for the rest of the evening, as Isakov engaged the audience with call and response.
The colorful flashing spotlights on stage brought the venue to life as Isakov continued his set, incorporating songs from his older albums — 2016’s “Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony,” 2013’s “The Weatherman,” and 2009’s “This Empty Northern Hemisphere.” Chills swept through the audience as Isakov performed “Liars,” repeating the phrase “now we’re just liars” with a soaring vocal and instrumental background.
One unforgettable moment from the evening came as Isakov introduced his band-mates, recounting how he and guitarist Danny Black had been in a band together when they were twelve years old. The audience could be heard aww-ing as the two reminisced about their shared childhood.
The stage lights dimmed as Isakov switched to a lower energy for the end of his set, playing acoustic-heavy songs like “Big Black Car,” “Amsterdam,” “Virginia May,” and “Second Chances.” Couples and friends could be seen holding each other in the audience, swaying side to side as they absorbed Isakov’s captivating lyrics and melodies, singing “if it weren’t for second chances, we’d all be alone.”
Isakov also announced that he has a new record coming out later this year. He gave the audience a sneak peek with a performance of the unreleased “Appaloosa Bones.” The song was a hit with fans, who listened with full smiles and closed eyes, entranced by the softness of Isakov’s voice and guitar.
After finishing the set, Isakov and his band thanked the audience before wrapping up the set. However, with an audience desperate for more music, they returned to play “Dandelion Wine” and “Saint Valentine.” In the encore they performed the tracks huddled together around a single microphone while laughing and dancing.
As the initial encore concluded, Isakov and the band returned to the stage once more for a second encore, playing “All Shades of Blue” before leaving the stage for good. After many special moments, fans left satisfied and excited to hear what’s on the horizon for Gregory Alan Isakov.
—Staff writer Najya S. Gause can be reached at email@example.com.
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