You’d be surprised how often bills are made up of acts that aren’t the right fit for each other. Opening acts that don’t complement the headliner. That wasn’t the case last week when Allen Stone and Nick Waterhouse played two shows at the Fonda Theatre — as those were a perfect match. We caught Thursday night’s show.
Both acts fit into that old-school vintage R&B space. Nick Waterhouse has more of a swing jazz component, whereas Allen Stone is more of a bluesy soul kind of guy. Together, they make up an excellent pairing — and a great idea for a date night.
Waterhouse played a fun and energetic set backed by an explosive band. He played some material from his excellent 2016 album Never Twice. He also played a song from what is expected to be a new album that was really vibrant. The set was a perfect appetizer for what was to come.
Then Allen Stone took the stage to heavy applause in a loud pinkish suit and sneakers. He’s a guy who has grown his name via word of mouth. I remember seeing him play an early-day set at the first Life is Beautiful Festival in 2014. It blew me away and he was one of the first shows I caught in LA after I moved here.
That word-of-mouth success became apparent very quickly at the show. He kicked his set off with “Brown Eyed Lover”, one of the first new singles he dropped this year. It’s one of my favorite songs he’s ever recorded — it’s a banger. A girl that came with my photographer took an Instagram video of that song. Not a few minutes later I looked over her shoulder and saw her open up a reply from someone that said “Who is that voice!?” and that they’re going to check him out. Word-of-mouth in action.
Allen Stone continued to play a set of funky and sexy songs, his vocal abilities not what you would expect from a nerdy-looking white dude. He mixed in positive messages about anxiety and depression while playing guitar solo after his band walked off for a bit. He joked with the crowd and made them laugh. Most of all, he had them smiling — echoing what he told me in an interview a few weeks ago where he wants his shows to be an escape for people.
He showed some killer dance moves, shared the news of his recent marriage, and played his recently released single “Taste of You”, which features Jamie Lidell, who produced his upcoming new album due out in the first quarter of 2019 hopefully. I’m looking forward to hearing more from it.
Words by Mark Ortega
Photos by Kayla Baity