The night's first act Langhorne Slim began his set with overcast skies, leading to a slight drizzle, and eventually succumbing to heavy rains with Slim delivering a range of favorites from his latest album, "Strawberry Mansion". The album was written during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. At the time, he had recently walked away from alcohol, and the songs came to him with ease. Slim felt the presence of his grandfather and his uncle with him during the time of the album's creation. Both men grew up in Strawberry Mansion, PA. where, in LS's words, the neighborhood was a "land of legends and mighty, mighty souls. Where the likes of John Coltrane and Curly Howard from The Three Stooges experienced pivotal moments in their lives."
Langhorne Slim shared with the audience his past struggles with alcoholism and mental health. His song, "No Right Way", extended grace to those who are struggling: "no wrong way to sing a song, no wrong way to get along, I'm sure no one feels like they belong, ain't no right way to be wrong." During the performance, he gave a super-fan the once-in-a-lifetime experience of joining him and his band on stage, singing her favorite cover song, Michael Hurley's "Be Kind to Me" released in 1971.
As the storm intensified, and the Langhorne Slim set closed, there was chatter and doubt in the audience whether or not Amos Lee would go on as scheduled, try to wait out the storm, or possibly even cancel. However, the night's headliner did not disappoint, and played a full setlist throughout the downpour while the poncho-clad audience sang and swayed with grins for the remainder of the night.
If Amos Lee customized his set list for the weather, or if his recent focus on mental health struggles were a coincidental alignment, there were many songs that shared themes of enduring through struggle and hope for tomorrow. Singing a cover of "You Are My Sunshine" was a genuine, welcome gesture to his fans withstanding the torrential weather.
"Dreamland", from his latest album's namesake, was a perfect example of his recent mental health themes while laying bare the roadmap from low point to hope on the horizon. "You stumble 'round and you fall down...But I'm not afraid to dream". "Worry No More" continued the sentiment, offering hope with "there's an open door for you." Lee ended the night with his hit, "Windows Are Rolled Down" delivering an on-message send-off, complete with the timely and poignant lyric, "I hope for you to get through this rain."
Both Langhorne Slim and Amos Lee each lay bare their own mental health journeys in their latest albums and shows. Each artist's vulnerability with mental health gives personal validation as many travel the same path while acknowledging a unique path toward wellness. In retrospect, the whole night was a musical therapy session, a shared beautiful catharsis between artist and audience.
I Offer Myself to Thee
No Right Way
House on Fire
Song for Syd
Cover of Be Kind to Me, song by Michael Hurley, guest fan singer Chloe
Seen it All Before
Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight.
See the Light
Worry No More
Cover, You are My Sunshine
Cover of Ooh Child, by The Five Stairsteps
Arms of a Woman
Windows are Rolled Down
Review: Libby O'Daniel
Photos: Tim Hobert