Gregory Alan Isakov played a sold out show at Brooklyn Steel (NY) on January 27th without an opener, but he wasn’t the only one who had the audience’s unwavering attention. He tours with a full band, so the stage was decorated with an upright bassist, violinist, banjo player, drummer, key player, and Isakov himself, playing both
the guitar and the harmonica. The full-sized band didn’t make the stage seem too crowded or, more importantly, take away from the simplistic beauty that’s found in his music. The group appeared to feel at home: at one point, Gregory talked about the fact that he and his band are from Boulder, but sometimes they wish they lived in Brooklyn.
This was Gregory’s first time touring since the pandemic. Although he hasn’t released an album since 2018, his collection of music has undoubtedly carried a lot of his fans through times of sorrow and isolation, which felt important to reflect on as we stood shoulder to shoulder at a sold-out show. A wave of calm spread over the crowd while he sang poetic songs about love, pain, hope, and the complicated emotions in between, proving his gift for nuanced storytelling is just as important as his singing.
The band came out with a second encore and huddled around a condenser microphone, closing with an acoustic version of “All Shades of Blue.” I left the night thinking about the haunting honesty in his lyrics, the warmth in his voice, and the feelings his live music provokes. Feelings that will stay with me long after he and his band leave the stage.