Allen Stone live at Village Underground, London | Review

Allen Stone, the self proclaimed “hippy with soul,” graced London’s Village Underground on March 24th, during the UK leg of his second European tour since the release of his debut album in 2013.

Described as an artist you should file next to Stevie Wonder, one would be right to have high expectations of his performance. With nearly three million hits on YouTube for his song “Unaware,” recorded live from his mother’s living room, it’s clear that this guy doesn’t do frills.

A crowd consisting of a mixture of students, young professionals and a few mums provided a more than warm reception for the son of a preacher from Chewalah, Washington. Jumping straight in with a couple of goofy Motown songs, he really got people moving with a positive energy so infectious that even the sternest of men would tap their feet.

Displaying more formidable vocals than his recordings, he smoothly transcended into soulful track “Quit Callin’ Me” before detaching his guitar and rocking out to “Headgone Mama.” Distinctly content with his efforts to stir up his audience, he finally addressed the eager spectators and declared that we were witnessing a very special show that night; “the only thing being created is right now.”

Stone’s passion for organic, raw soul was also evident in his pride in the fact that no laptops or other forms of technology are involved in his set. His Baptist church background seemed to come to light as he encouraged us to “drop [our] pride and [our] egos and do what makes [us] feel cool, not what [we] think is cool.” The denim-clad goldilocks maintained interest by fluctuating between intimate solo serenades of his new material and communal worship with his more popular numbers accompanied by his tightly knit band.

Throughout the show, he commandeered us to 2-step with his signature move – the ‘Universal Swing’ – and he overtly exhibited his bass face when covering Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good.” With the gig lasting around an hour and a half in total, revelers were pleasantly surprised for his captivating encore cover of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” and an R&B re-fix of Gotye‘s global smash “Somebody I Used To Know.”

Without experiencing his live concerts, the happy-clappy, supple-mouthed sermons spouting from a man who looks a cross between Lou and Andy from Little Britain could provoke some discerning reactions from cooler kinds. However, for this cynic he proved enough to rouse an “Amen!”