Live Review: Anderson East – The Sage 2, Gateshead

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On this Monday night, the Sage seemed very quiet and empty but many still made it down to witness a night kick-starting the venue’s Autumn Americana season, with Anderson East.

I have been to Sage 2 many times but this night took me by surprise as we stepped into the venue to see that it had become an almost cabaret setting of table and chairs rather than rows upon rows. It felt quite special. And to open this special night was artist Hattie Briggs, who has just released her second album, Young Runaway.

As Hattie stepped onto the stage, the room was very silent as she plugged in her guitar for her first two numbers before taking up the keyboards. She is a wonderful storyteller as she told the crowd about Share Your Heart being a ‘hard love song to write when you’ve never been in love.’ Hattie is a joy on the guitar but as she took to the keyboards on this track, there was a slight magic in the air even though it was written at her time of teenage angst. She definitely captured the crowd and followed by introducing Castle On The Sand as that one sad song that every album needs. We were then told that Hattie is a big Eva Cassidy fan and she closed her set with a cover of Autumn Leaves the Eva Cassidy way, making us fall even more in love with her vocals.

With a slight break it was time for the main act. Now I have a confession. I was drawn to this gig on the basis that I loved the promo photo used by the Sage and thought Anderson East was a cool sounding name. I played a few snippets of his songs and thought there could be something more to him than these simple factors and I was right to follow my gut instinct! From the get-go, the vibe was electric as East and his energetic band dived straight into Quit You, which was full of soul and dirty blues and his voice, oh Anderson East has a gravely voice that just makes you go weak at the knees!

He, like many paying customers, was actually taken back by the cabaret style seating that was presented to him, as with the energy being pumped around the room, this was not a gig to sit down at. Even a cover of Mariah Carey’s Always Be My Baby, couldn’t stop the energy (and why would it!). We were then given a few more covers as well as some great original material, in addition to his great crowd banter. Anderson checked in with us now and again to see if we were alright, with his Deep South American accent giving the show a nice raw edge and getting the crowd rowdy.

The band then disappeared as East tells us it is time for him to stand up there and be vulnerable, as it was just him and his electric guitar. What A Woman Wants To Hear sings the lonely soul of Anderson East, drenched in blue light and smoke, giving us one of the quietest and most stunning moments of the night, along with Lying In Her Arms. And with that, the band slowly returned to the stage section by section – first the horns, then keyboardist, bass guitarist, drums and then electric guitarist – it was all very well rehearsed and beautiful.

And with the full band back on stage, Anderson tells us that he and the boys are just going to ‘do their thang!’ Sage 2 was alive as we were treated to covers including Rod Stewart’s Stay With Me and into Satisfy Me. But the crowd was not ready for the night to end there and we were lucky that Anderson and his band heard us. The night ends on slow song, All I Ever Need, bringing a perfect ending to one of the best gigs I have recently witnessed.

Words & Image by Victoria Ling