Written by Sarah Wall
On Wednesday, February 17, the Brooklyn Arts Center was alive with high-energy music and dancing as Anders Osborne rolled into town and rocked the place out. From the moment opener Amy Helm and the Handsome Strangers played their first song until Osborne played his last, the crowd never stopped moving.
Helm warmed things up with her infectious personality. She put all of herself into her performance as she jumped and danced around to her fast-paced songs and swayed to her slower, soulful tunes. When asked about her favorite part of performing, Helm said “Once in a while, I have a show where I can feel the audience and feel that connection more clearly, and that’s what’ll keep you going.” It was evident that the BAC crowd was in synch with Helm, just as taken by the music and the moment as she was.
Towards the end of her set, Helm took a moment to pay tribute to her father, rock and roll superstar Levon Helm, drummer of legendary rock group The Band. She and her bandmates gathered around a single mic to sing “Glory Days”—a hymn her father taught her—in perfect harmony. She dedicated the song to “all of your loved ones waiting for you on the other side."
After that touching moment, Helm sped things back up with her final song, “Good News,” and left the crowd jazzed and ready for headliner Anders Osborne.
Osborne kicked things up a notch as he played a powerful fusion of blues and rock. He started with the song “Can You Still Hear Me?” one of the most popular songs from his album Spacedust and Ocean Views. In an inspiring moment of connection, Osborne sang the lyric “put your hands in the air. We have nothing to lose” and everyone lifted up their arms.
The rocker slowed things down for one song—“Me and Lola,” which members of the audience had been calling for by name. Before he played it, Osborne told the story of a woman he’d loved and lost named Lola, and then began singing in a voice full of nostalgia.
From there, Osborne brought the tempo back up with crowd favorites, “Mind of a Junkie” and “Jealous Love.” He transitioned seamlessly between songs—before the final note of one piece tapered off, they’d be playing the first chord of the next one, keeping the momentum of the music going. The final song of the night was “Back to Mississippi” which was inspired by Osborne’s time living in New Orleans. This bluesy song had everyone grooving as the set drew to a close.
By the time the lights came up and the crowd filed out of the iconic, 128-year-old BAC church, everyone knew they had been a part of special evening of music.