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Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real in Vienna
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Someone needs to explain to me just why Lukas Nelson isn’t hailed as a major league guitar god.
He and his ridiculously talented band the Promise of the Real came into a small Washington, D.C. area club on a rainy Monday night and practically blew the doors off with their high-energy two-hour long show that included everything from the title track of the band’s latest album “Wasted” through a cover of David Bowie’s “Major Tom.”
Although Nelson has clearly inherited the songwriting chops of his famous father Willie, as evidenced by such beautiful ballads as “Can You Hear Me Love You,” and more light-hearted tunes including “Four Letter Word,” it’s Lukas Nelson’s guitar playing that makes him a true musical shooting star. His playing is generally loud and bold but it also sounds as intimate and intricate as that of the much-revered Randy Rhoads, Ozzy Osbourne’s late, great axe man.
Although Nelson’s repertoire swerves from rock to Americana to country, his stage presence is generally as rock as it comes. When Van Halen was starting out, it was said that David Lee Roth would do his famous athletic jumps, twirls and steps even if the band was playing before a handful of people. So it was with Nelson and bassist Corey McCormick – backed by the equally energetic drummer Anthony LoGerfo (who was playing the show on his birthday) and percussionist Tato Melgar. To watch Nelson and McCormick bounce and jump around the stage while playing their hard charging licks, you would have thought they were in front of a festival crowd instead of a handful of generally drunk patrons.
Nelson is one of those guitarists who go into their own zone when playing, internalizing the lyrics and letting their soulfulness flow out in the music. Even as some fairly inebriated audience members snapped pictures close to his face and bowed to him in reverence, Nelson stayed in his own psychic place as he continued to play a set that included a cover of his father’s song “The Sound of Your Memory” and his own original songs including “Don’t Take Me Back,” “Can You Hear Me Love You,” and “ Four Letter Word.”
Except for a thick, western-themed guitar strap embroidered with “Lukas,” and a few simple thanks to the crowd for their applause, Nelson didn’t speak from the stage. Of course, he didn’t need to because his playing, and that of his band, told audience members all they needed to know.
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