“Five tickets left? I’ll take four,” said by the desperate fan in front of me, as we waited in line to get into the second night of Sturgill Simpson show at the Paramount on Saturday night. The highly anticipated two-night run from the country-rock phenomenon had nearly sold out, leaving one to wonder, “who will end up with the final ticket of the night?”
Inside, the lobby was a sea of excited smiles and cups of beer. Opening act The London Souls, from New York, brought a vibrant, soulful energy to the event, one that would surely have been lacking without them. A duo of a soul-slaying guitarist and drummer, The London Souls rocked through several tracks that warmed the room of swaying bodies with their psychedelic sound. With a vibe reminiscent of a few decades ago, it is no surprise the two seemingly different acts ended up together.
Just after nine p.m., a denim-clad Sturgill Simpson took his place in between a seven-piece backing band and a full house. A man of few words, Simpson took no time getting into his set, and song after song after song followed thereafter, for over two hours of pure roots-rock.
After playing the night before, Sturgill Simpson seemed to have lost no steam as he belted through “Voices,” “Turtles All the Way Down” and “Life of Sin” without fault. Excited fanatics sang along with each word and not a chair in the venue was being used. The backing horns, otherwise known as Scott Frock, Brad Walker and Jon Ramm, took the country sound to different spectrum and Bobby Emmett grooved the keyboard like a southern-rock classic.
“I suppose some of you have tried the weed, I suggest you try the oxygen.” Sturgill Simpson toyed.
“Just Let it Go,” “Long White Line,” “Call Me Breeze” and “Living the Dream,” tracks of the middle of the set, were accompanied by various horn solos and a bass segment from Chuck Bartels that induced crowd hysteria.
“Folks, stay right there for a minute, we’ve got one for the ladies,” Simpson stated as he moved into “The Promise,” a warm song that received a definite response from those who it was dedicated.
After introducing each member of his band, they rocked “Welcome to Earth,” “Breakers Roar” and “Keep it in Between the Lines,” the latter of which produced more solos, this time namely from drummer Miles Miller.
“Sea Stories,” “All Around You” and the much expected “In Bloom” Nirvana cover made the group seem like a factory, churning out all of their best work. After two-nights, Simpson may need to allow Denver to recuperate, so here is to hoping he returns – and to hoping that final ticket didn’t go to waste.
All photos by Alden Bonecutter.