Bahamas brought the sunshine and a night of feelgood jams to leaf on Bold Street and Getintothis‘ David Hall was there basking in all heat.
The room warm with body heat and the bar buzzing, Leaf sank into a hush at 8:30 as Of The Valley took to the stage. It was a quiet that seemed more respectful than reverent, as Brian DellaValle‘s set had humble beginnings with its meandering, chorusless songs.
But his material got stronger throughout, until his voice rose above the fuzzy crackle of his electroacoustic guitar and sustained some impressively evocative notes. His wide-eyed, easy stage presence also endeared him to the Liverpool audience, and DellaValle (translated from Italian into English; “of the valley”) seemed genuinely happy to be in the city and onstage, which was refreshing.
By contrast, taking the stage and rolling into the first songs of their headlining set, Bahamas main man Afie Jurvanen looked pissed off as fuck to be in front of a decent Bold Street crowd. Not that the music matched; think Dirty Projectors with the edges sanded down into a deliciously funky, soulful gloss, or The War On Drugs in a sunnier climate and on anxiety meds.
The Canadian’s dour visage however was soon revealed to be part of his schtick, as he introduced the band and spoke to the crowd with warmly acerbic wit, and he couldn’t have been more dryly personable and funny between songs.
Jurvanen‘s audience interaction was assured and witty, even honouring a callout for the playful Bad Boys Need Love Too by playing the request during Bahamas‘ encore.
It’s these fun, loose songs of blue eyed, soulful Americana jams where the Canadian quartet’s strength really lay. The moodier, slower pieces only got in the way of the groovy, noodling jams that were so beguiling. That included crooner out closer Any Place, which wasn’t quite the cosmic soul train we were hoping would send us tripping off into the night.
So although the night’s loudest cheer was reserved for Barchords‘ opener Lost In The Light, it was far from the set’s highlight. That was reserved for something like Show Me, Naomi, or perhaps even new album Earthtones tracks like Opening Act or sultry opener So Free.
At their best Bahamas were truly something joyful to behold and to groove along to, and left us wondering why all bands can’t be so free and easy.
Images by Getintothis’ Paul Wills