Anderson East, Nashville singer-songwriter, brought his Encore World Tour through Cincinnati on Sunday night. Selling out the 20th Century Theatre, East and his band proved that their influence has spread far and wide. After opening for tours with artists like Chris Stapleton and the Dixie Chicks, East’s country and R&B infused sound has appealed to a variety of audiences.
Kicking off the night, fellow Nashville artist Devon Gilfillian brought some sweet southern tunes reminiscent of artists like Gary Clark Jr. and Ben Harper. Not only does Gillfilian impress with flawless guitar solos, his voice puts him in a league of his own. The band played songs off of Gillfilian’s 2016 self-titled release along with some presumably newer ones, with “Travelin’ Blues” taking the prize for my favorite. The band gathered around a single microphone for an a capella cover of “Lean On Me” incorporating harmonies that covered me in goosebumps. I was absorbed by the chemistry of the band both vocally and instrumentally and look forward to catching their set this summer at Forecastle Festival.
I have seen Anderson East once before, but the energy he brought this time far surpassed my expectations. He recently released his second full length album, Encore, comprised of 11 tracks that showcase all the things he does best. East took the stage with “Sorry You’re Sick,” and his unique voice immediately took me by surprise. As I said, I’ve seen East and his band before and was fully prepared for what I was in for, but something about East’s energy had me even more hypnotized the second around. The band played songs from Encoreand East’s first record, Delilah, including “Devil In Me,” a slower jam about getting a little too friendly with a preacher’s daughter. Another highlight was a cover of “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces” by Willie Nelson, paying tribute to East’s southern influence. Not only did East command the stage in a way that I’ve never seen before, his band was talented beyond belief. While introducing them, East definitely made clear that the band’s friendship was a big part of their dynamic, and the fluidity and playfulness they brought to the stage showed it. While I knew what I was getting myself into, I couldn’t have dreamed up a more flawless performance. I was left with a new-found appreciation for East and his music, and couldn’t make it clearer that seeing him and his band the next time they come around should be at the top of your to-do list.