Allen Stone started his night in front of a Turner Hall audience nearly an hour before his band took the stage, dancing at a distance with a young girl as she gleefully watched him peer over the edge of the balcony.
Clad in his trademark hat and glasses, the Seattle native would go on to match his youthful fan's exuberance and energy throughout his marathon two-hour set and encore Wednesday night, establishing a standard that few of his contemporaries could hope to match.
Stone's band played him out to a delightful rendition of James Brown's "Sex Machine," leading right into their own "What I've Seen." Stone commands the stage with the vigor and conviction of a tent revivalist, not surprising given that he was raised the son of a preacher.
Combining that near-religious fervor with the strut of an industry veteran thrice his age, Stone thoroughly rocked a game crowd, pausing only to soak in an extended ovation on a mention that he was making his first headlining appearance in the Cream City.
A pair of slower numbers, "Killing Time" and "The Bed I Made," allowed Stone the opportunity to show off his softer side. Sitting down with acoustic guitar in hand, he led a willing assembly along with a duo of tracks that were reminiscent of Amos Lee cut with the very best parts of John Mayer's early work.
Allen Stone exudes soul, and furthermore radiates soulfulness. Renditions of Bob Marley's "Is This Love" and Chaka Khan's "Tell Me Something Good" were peppered into the show, the former showcasing Stone's world-class falsetto and finishing with a flourish that would make Christina Aguilera jealous. Even when he's not jumping octaves, Stone's voice is like hot buttered rum: warm, inviting and more than a little intoxicating. Using it to the best of his ample abilities, he took those familiar tracks and left his own mark on them, as if their lyrics had flowed from his own veins.
His aforementioned church upbringing was put on display during a brief sermon that served as an intermission of sorts. Discussing how often we all miss the chance for genuine personal contact in favor of social media, Stone implored his congregation to put their phones down and throw themselves into the night's entertainment.
"Our greatest gift as human beings, besides music, is the opportunity to work together to create the energy that we call love," Stone said before diving into an inspired performance of "Contact High."
After an impromptu dance-off between two halves of the audience and a head-fake of Michael Jackson's "Thriller," Stone finished his main set with the aptly named "Satisfaction." A brief moment off stage was all the band would need before returning to cap the night with a two-song encore that featured opening act Tingsek joining Stone for a duet of "Six Years." Stone then finished the night off properly with the beautiful tones of "Unaware," arguably the strongest track on his eponymous 2012 release.
Leading into Stone's show was cute-as-a-button Belgian songstress Selah Sue, a burgeoning star in Europe who is just now making inroads stateside. While her popular single "Raggamuffin" was strong, it was a cover of The Zutons' "Valerie" that really won the growing mob over. Even more impressive was her final offering, the staggeringly beautiful "Break."
With a stirring voice that seemed equal parts Nelly Furtado, Holly Conlan and Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir of Of Monsters And Men fame, Selah Sue captivated Turner Hall with a virtuoso performance. It's hard to imagine her not headlining when she returns to town.
Opening the evening was an engaging presentation from Sweden's Magnus Tingsek, who records and performs under his surname only. Sounding like Gavin DeGraw with a healthy infusion of blues, Tingsek showed true professionalism while weathering myriad technical difficulties.
At one point, something went horribly awry with Tingsek's keyboard. Undaunted, the Swede pushed forward as the song became de facto a cappella. This grace served only to win him points with a forgiving audience, one that became increasingly connected to him as he played guitar, keyboard and looped his own percussion. An impressive Milwaukee debut, to be sure.
In his outstanding, uplifting "Say So," Stone proclaims, "Anything that you need, guaranteed, I will give it to you. Whatever the cost, everything that I've got I will give it to you."
He sure wasn't kidding.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by OnMilwaukee.com Staff Writers
Published Feb. 8, 2016
Milwaukee's resident groundhog didn't see his shadow -- so rejoice in the revelation that spring is indeed coming. This weeks #WeWant features some of our favorite things to do and use these last few weeks of spring.
Published Feb. 8, 2016
After over 80 years in business, Brookfield-based Grasch Foods has been sold to the Balistreri family and will soon become a Sendik's Food market.
Published Feb. 7, 2016
Madison365 presents the third in a five-part series highlighting Wisconsin residents of Latino heritage who have accomplished great things in business, education, government, media and the nonprofit sector.
Published Feb. 7, 2016
Nothing says "I love you" like romantic music, and the Florentine Opera delivers with a Valentine's Day weekend full of romantic music from opera, operetta and musical theater. It promises to be better than candy.
Published Feb. 7, 2016
At 84 years old, Richard (Dick) Larsen calls retirement his "second life." No longer running the business he founded, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports, Larsen now fills his time serving on the boards of several nonprofit organizations.
Published Feb. 6, 2016
Milwaukee County officials yesterday announced that the Mitchell Park Domes would be closed over the weekend due to safety concerns about falling debris.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
The West End Conservatory is the story of a burning vision shared by two Milwaukee jazz musicians with surplus talent, energy, intelligence and pure grit. But the flame almost went out early on.
Published Feb. 4, 2016
It's one of Milwaukee's most cherished and distinctive traditions: the Friday fish fry. The tradition is live and thriving in Milwaukee -- especially with the start of Lent. It's a big list, so dig in and read on.
Published Feb. 3, 2016
Saehee Chang came to the U.S. in 1981 at 12 years old. She was born in Seoul but lived in Vietnam and Nairobi, Kenya for much of her youth. That experience, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports, eventually inspired her to start her business, Korea Konnect, in 2009.
Published Feb. 2, 2016
Once again, the annual Milwaukee celebration of all things cinema will land on the last week of September and the first week of October, running from Thursday, Sept. 22 through Thursday, Oct. 6.