Lindsey Luff and Milow
The Mercury Lounge, New York, NY
November 9, 2016
I didn’t get out to a live show on Tuesday night. Instead, I spent the evening with some of the publicists I’ve known since the very beginning of my writing career. But I was back out at the clubs again last night for the early show at The Mercury Lounge, where Brooklyn-based Lindsey Luff opened for LA-based Belgian singer Milow.
It was my first visit to The Mercury Lounge in 18 years; in 1998, I made it to a Lisa St. Ann–Willie Nile performance there. (Not that I’ve been avoiding this great venue; I’ve only been to a few shows in New York since then.) In any case, the room feels as welcoming as it did nearly two decades ago.
The Opener: Lindsey Luff
I was impressed immediately as singer-songwriter Lindsey Luff kicked things off in a slow rockin’ Americana-ish number featuring a vocal that’s more accurately described as a power wail which, in this case, seems to carry a bit of Irish folk song anguish. In the second song of the night, in fact, her plea of “run away with me” is very convincing.
Lindsey’s songs throughout her set were very consistent, with her haunting, insistent, often plaintive voice maintaining enough edge (with perhaps a hint of gravellyness) to set that energetically relaxed tone that keeps the audience engaged.
“What I Wouldn’t Do” pairs Lindsey’s convincing vocals with a wicked-catchy simple bass hook, while “Anything At All” sports a more brooding vocal supplying the soft power.
Lindsey’s edgy crooning vocal is featured on the mellow “Wishing,” a great song to get the audience swaying. “Remind Me” is worth noting, too, with guitar, vocals and, notably, drums building to power; here, also, was particularly effective use of emotional, cracking vocals.
Lindsey closed the set with a rousing, arena-swaying audience singalong number, sporting determination in her vocals and featuring a nice atmospheric guitar solo. Perfect way to leave the audience wanting more.
The Headliner: Milow
As Milow’s set time approached, the crowd noticeably built, as an enthusiastic chunk of New York’s Belgian community came out in force to show its support.
Milow’s rich, full, emotional, deep vocals provide his catchy songs a smooth vibe. I guess he’d be best described as a singer-songwriter, and he spices his music up with a playful streak. In fact, I often found myself thinking his songs were a bit of James Taylor-meets-Barenaked Ladies, if you can imagine that. And that carries over into his stage presence, as he’s great at connecting with the crowd during his between-song bits. By the end of the first song, even, it was obvious Milow is a headliner-quality performer.
His second song made a connection with a good chunk of this New York crowd on this given night, “(Gonna Move to) Canada.” Of course, in the song “Canada,” he’s off to meet Neil Young. The track features great keyboard work and guitar strumming and, wow, what a voice! Plus, by the end of the song, it’s the first introduction to the playfulness in some of Milow’s lyrics, not unlike that band I mentioned earlier, whose sound I hear a bit of in this (in part due to tempo and phrasing) and who he could, in fact, meet in Canada, Barenaked Ladies.
With so many good songs during Milow’s set, it’s hard to know what to highlihgt. “No No No” would probably be one of my favorites; I love the way the power builds in spots.
Cheerful “Happiness” proved to be a crowd favorite. It’s a rather odd, unusual love song, quite silly, with a twisted sense of humor shared broadly by his audience.
I was very fond of “The Fast Lane,” a hit single-quality song that impressed me with its mellow, smooth, and rich vocal. “We Must Be Crazy,” meanwhile, is one of his many lyrically-interesting tunes, as he doesn’t always make the most obvious choices in his lyrics, and that’s a good thing.
“Swimming Against the Tide” again displayed his hit songwriting skills, as this catchy number again caused me to invoke a combo of Taylor and the Ladies for comparison.
A cover of “Blue Skies” showcased Milow’s phrasing skills, as he really drew out some syllables so they could pop, making a very old song new again.
“You Don’t Know,” with its cool, energetic medium tempo, proved another crowd singalong favorite.
Milow promised he’d bring the mood back up after “You’re Still Alive in My Head,” a sensitive, Simon and Garfunkel-ish number with a notably cool guitar-pickin’ bridge.
He delivered with “Howling at the Moon.” This uptempo, fun song about traveling and the changing seasons is perhaps my favorite of Milow’s singalong songs, as it offers those who sing along a chance to, in fact, howl along. And everyone needs a good howl.
For his encore, Milow sang his cover of “Starboy,” which he just Shazammed. Dude really made it his own. It was a terrific end to a great concert.
Milow is quite obviously a headlining performer. And I had a terrific time; it’s always fun to discover a new artist at a show alongside a throng of his enthusiastic, adoring fans.
Well, I plan to be in Brooklyn tonight, catching New Myths at Brooklyn Bazaar. It’s one of the two dates I had placed on my calendar “in ink” when originally planning this New York jaunt; I look forward to hearing them live.
Lindsey Luff doesn’t have any upcoming gigs listed on her website, but keep an eye out on her “shows” page for them.
Milow is heading to Canada for three shows this week. You can catch him tonight, November 10, at Imperial Bell in Quebec City; tomorrow, Friday, November 11, at the Corona Theatre in Montreal; and Saturday, November 12, at the Drake Hotel in Toronto. He’ll be on tour in Europe soon, too, kicking off in Luxembourg on November 30th and wrapping up in Leuven, Belgium, on December 18th. In between, he’ll perform in Groningen, Diest, Cologne, Utrecht, Hanover, Wagrain, Vienna, Prague, Lausanne, Nijmegin, and Antwerpen. See his “tour” page for dates and times of these shows, plus for other future tour dates in the future.