Sevendust Bares Its Soul Live
By Alyce Hayes
If you are in the mood for a truly intimate music experience, I must highly recommend the An Evening with Sevendust show while the band is still touring. I can’t think of any other show that would leave you feeling so connected to a band, as the dedicated fans (myself included) packing both levels of Mojoes in Joliet, IL obviously were. Sevendust’s acoustic album, Time Travelers and Bonfires, (read our review here) contributed significantly to proving the band’s staying power, and their ability to launch this tour without any opening acts or gimmicks ~ and have it pack every venue it has come through ~ cemented that longevity beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The night’s two sets were unbelievably moving, and the positive energy coursing through the room was equally so. Lajon made a point of calling this show a “family reunion,” noting that he recognized people in the audience who had been coming to their shows since the band first formed. He acknowledged every camera he saw, seemed touched that the fans were singing the lyrics, and I swear he made direct eye contact with me and at least half of the audience. There’s something very different about Sevendust fans (aside from the grown men yelling “I love you!” at the band). Much of it, I think, has to do with the vulnerability that they allow fellow audience members ~ and the band ~ to witness. Every member of Sevendust is clearly moved by the music they create and how it affects their listeners. At one point in the show, Lajon had us all close our eyes and just listen for a moment while the band played a slower rendition of one of their songs. And we actually did it. He was welcoming us into his perspective, but also identifying with the intense music-lovers in the crowd for whom a progression of chords, or the notes in a legato phrase, could be (and certainly in this case were) soul-stirring.
But I’ll try not to get too sappy on you. This is Sevendust we’re talking about, and a Sevendust acoustic show is not about your run-of-the-mill style gentle guitars and soft voices. The songs still had an aggressive flair, and both Lajon and Clint Lowery’s voices effortlessly filled Mojoes. When the band performed “Karma” and “Black,” the whole venue was rocking out, jumping and singing along. Towards the end of “Skeleton Song,” Morgan Rose blew us all away with a killer drum solo. It was so impressive that his band mates were starting at him by the time he was finishing up. Being able to catch those intimate moments amongst band members is priceless, especially when you could see that the guys can be emotional but still know how to have fun. Between songs they interacted spontaneously with everyone and told jokes. At one point, they had us all singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” (which made me feel like I was at live band karaoke), and later on, Clint and Lajon broke into Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen.” Those little moments added to the “family reunion” atmosphere that the band had embraced earlier in the show and had continued to cultivate as the night progressed.
There was also an important storytelling aspect to the show. Ambience was set with [electric] candles and intimate stage lighting. Lajon shared stories of the making of Time Travelers and Bonfires, the process of reinventing their songs, and the subject matter behind some of their new tracks. As they performed a few of the deeper, more soul-bearing songs ~ “The Wait,” “Angel’s Son,” “Xmas Day” ~ he asked us if we knew what those songs were about; it was as though he wanted us to interpret, to feel, and perhaps understand, even marginally, what the lyrics meant to him and the band. In some ways, Lajon’s spirited and powerful stage presence can make you feel like you’re being taught a lesson, but mostly, and for sure this night, it just felt as though someone (well, a group of someones) was sharing their tales as if to say, “We’ve been there, too.” It takes real courage to allow yourself that kind of vulnerability, especially when “yourself” is a huge-name band and you are in front of a crowd of people ~ who, although faithful fans, are still “the public,” but these musicians touched so many people and gave us such a memorable show because of it.
Throughout the show, Sevendust made sure to express how thankful they were for everyone in the audience, and towards the end of the show, the audience started to yell, “Thank you!” back…and we meant it. A genuine and consistent circle of gratitude and reciprocation between a band and its fans is not as common as it should be, so when you do find it, treasure it ~ much like a family.