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. 27, 2017
Even though Milwaukee is 1,000 miles from New Orleans, celebrating Mardi Gras in Brew City is one big easy.
Published Feb. 27, 2017
The genre of classic rock sparks love in people's lives from either growing up in its prime or having the musical influences bestowed upon them by others. Both types were in the crowd that gathered at The Pabst Theater last night for The Classic Rock Show.
Published Feb. 26, 2017
Your favorite designers once again took to the runways to show off their 2017 fall collections at New York Fashion Week.
Published Feb. 25, 2017
People dream of seeing legendary rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Queen, AC/DC and more. Thanks to groups like The Classic Rock Show - coming to The Pabst Sunday night - you can still see these legends and hear their awesome rock anthems come to life.
Published Feb. 23, 2017
Walking up to the Riverside Theater, all you could see was a swarm of people lined up along the river, dressed in outrageous outfits, homemade shirts and eccentric accessories. It was clear: "The Price is Right" had taken over.
Published Feb. 22, 2017
Whether you're a soccer player, sports fan or community advocate looking for a fun way to give back, all are welcome to come together and improve the quality of life of Milwaukee's children in the 2017 SCORES CUP Charity Indoor Soccer Tournament.
Published Feb. 21, 2017
Roger Waters, one of the key original members of Pink Floyd, will bring his solo "Us + Them" tour to Milwaukee's BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday, July 29.
Published Feb. 18, 2017
You may look at National Drink Wine Day as just another day, but for us it is an opportunity to partake in some great pours and more. Sip away at these options in this edition of the OnMilwaukee WeWant.
Published Feb. 18, 2017
When I Will Not Die Young co-founder Muhibb Dyer learned that his organization had received $25,000 from Milwaukee-born Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, he thought it was a prank, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports.
Published Feb. 17, 2017
With a variety of restaurants located conveniently near ski hills, snowmobile trails and more, winter is the perfect time for a warm Wisconsin-style meal. Here are five snowy Wisconsin supper club hot spots.