Thanksgiving seems like the perfect day to see the Texan country sensation Israel Nash playing live at Scala in Kings Cross and the show is pretty much sold out helping to create a good atmosphere.

Israel Nash at Scala

I got in while opening act Brent Cowles was playing as a duo with Heidi Hammill on backing vocals now I only heard the last three songs but he sounded very cool and certainly has a few things to say which is essential for any good country folk singer. Although all the songs sounded like they needed a band behind them he has real presence and some fine guitar playing too.

Brent Cowles

Brent’s heritage as the son of  Pastor was clear as he asked us plenty of questions in one song and then while singing about Tabitha he and Heidi harmonised on a good few “Hallelujahs”, he is definitely one to watch out for.

The main support was Treetop Flyers who have become a very fine blue eyed country Soul band in recent years and this was a very fine set from this hard working six piece band whose set opened with Warning Bell that was a bit of a slow opener that really only took off from the first sax solo of the set and from that point on they never put a foot wrong as the song opened out into the sort of soul shouter that Jess Roden made his own.

Treetop Flyers

Then Reid Morrison really kicked the band into gear as he sang with intense passion on Dance Through The Night to be with the one he loves or lusts after while the bands three guitarists really got that early Box Tops feel going and the more passionate Reid’s vocals became as the song built the more the packed crowd got into it.

The highlight of the set for me was the lazy beginnings of Needle and how they built into a passionate plea for his love to stay till the end of the record this built like they were trying to shake Scala down as an old soul stomper full of great swaggering saxophone fills.

Treetop Flyers

On the long closing song as Reid sang about how the women he wanted and needed so much love a wonderfully joyous up-beat song with some cool guitar from Laurie Sherman that had at times the feel of an old TV theme tune maybe Juliet Bravo or something similar that added a “Britsploitation” feel to it as it also got everyone dancing along to it. A very cool set that went down very well with everyone inside who would have happily let them have an encore.

Israel Nash

Israel Nash came on to a huge round of applause and cheers on this the last night of his current European tour for his latest album Lifted on Loose Music.

They opened with Rolling On and straight away the moment RC Sollenburger played his first guitar solo I was kind of transfixed by his playing and all the emotions he had on his face as he contorted and wrung every note out as Israel sang and played his Gretsch the whole place was totally in tune with the band.

Eric Swanson

As with all the songs Lucky Ones tells a deep story in this case about survival as Eric Swanson added all sorts of textures and effects from the wide open spaces of Texas on his pedal steel guitar and keyboards.

Israel was very thankful to us for showing up to see the band while introducing Spirit Falls that had both RC Sollenburger and Aaron McClellan taken us on a good trippy country ride to lift the spirits as Israel sang about the opposite.

Israel Nash at Scala

Sweet Springs is about the studio Israel has built on his ranch back in Texas and felt like some of the early 70’s desert sounds of Gram Parsons or Gene Clark. Widow was another sad tale from real life about a couple who had something back in 1973 but had fallen apart later on a wonderfully elegiac song.

La Lately had more totally intense guitar from RC Sollenburger who was making me thing of Ben Gazzara in some strange way with some of the faces being a touch Brad Wesley in Roadhouse which I know is an odd comparison to make of a guitarist.

Israel Nash at Scala

Israel made sure we all knew how much love he had for everyone in the room and we should all love each other in time for him to make us all gaze at the Northwest Stars with him and the band whose playing took us into the stratosphere.  Who In Time kept up the intense and beautiful music as another intricate story unfolded.

Looking Glass was the song that Israel switched to an acoustic guitar and Eric Swanson played an electric guitar on that changed the dynamic nicely on this gentle love song with a twist or two as they tried to get us dancing… I think swaying was more the order of the day almost time for a slow dance.

Israel Nash at Scala

Goodbye Ghost was greeted like an old friend by the audience from the first notes as it built towards a great guitar break as the band all sang in harmony on the chorus it was powerful and moving and had a good feel of us all being in it together no matter what. They closed with Mansions that allowed the band plenty of room to lift us up while the dark story unfolds in Israel’s lyrics.

There were no doubts that they would come back for an encore and they were joined by Brent Cowles and most of the Treetop Flyers to allow Israel to address the tragedy of gun crime in America with a storming version of Neil Young’s Ohio it was sadly a perfect song for our times.  They then went back to the normal band to finish the night with a cool version of Rain Plans that had time for another great solo from RC Sollenburger and some more thanks and they were gone leaving us wanting more and I’m sure many of the fans will already have bought tickets to see them at Oslo in the new year when they return.

Israel Nash at Scala

Photography by Sarah Sievers and Live Review by Simon Phillips of Israel Nash, Treetop Flyers and Brent Cowles Live @ Scala Kings Cross on Thursday 22nd November 2018

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