Concert goers eagerly waited outside the 9:30 Club in the nation’s capital in much need of some warm and homely music. Leif Vollebekk (Isakov’s touring opening act) started off the show; just one man and his keyboard. As a self proclaimed comedian, Vollebekk punched out some jokes as he warmed up his keys before serenading the audience with a mix of covers (such as “LOVE” by Kendrick Lamar) and some originals, before bringing out his guitar later in the show. He stated during his set that he has toured with Isakov a few times before and “quite honestly” they “make a great travelling pair”.
After everyone had grabbed another beer, Gregory Alan Isakov took the stage under a single glinting light, garbed in his signature farmers hat and a rugged guitar around his shoulder. After the opening song, Isakov’s touring band approached the stage to perform “Big Black Car.” They went on to perform many new songs from Isakov’s latest album, Evening Machines. One of these songs was the great “Southern Star”, with the singer asking for all the lights to be shut off for the desired effect.
At one point in the set Isakov noted that many listeners classified him as a writer of “...sad space music…” as he strummed his way into “The Universe” while the audience chuckled. The striking piano chorus notes were sorely missed in “Amsterdam”, but Isakov finished his set to unending applause; the people demanded an encore.
After a few more upbeat songs, the band took a bow and strutted off stage, but just when everyone turned to leave, there was a SECOND encore with opening act Leif Vollebekk. Both artists, with guitars in hand, sang a cover of a Springsteen hit before the show ended.
Gregory Alan Isakov is a fantastic lyricist, one with the ability to make a person nostalgic for a place they’ve never been to. He’s an outstanding live performer and comes with high recommendations for those afternoon drives through a hilly countryside.