Bonny Light Horseman absolutely blew our minds at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NYC. In support of their sophomore release Rolling Golden Holy, this indie folk-rock supergroup is a lineup of true all-star musicians. With Anais Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats), Josh Kaufman, J.T. Bates on drums and Cameron Ralston (Spacebomb Records) on bass, this band is ready to serve you a truly religious rock concert experience.
They opened the night with a stunning rendition of ‘Blackwaterside’, track five from the self-titled debut album in 2020. This song presented a true signature, pure acoustic-folk Bonny Light Horseman sound. You can tell immediately from the beaming vocals of both Mitchell and Johnson that these two are masters of their instruments and blend incredibly well together. Next, they performed the opening track ‘Exile’ from the new album. With its mysterious leading guitar riff, this tune kept us intrigued and honed into the beautiful and captivating energy the band continued to build throughout the night.
Keeping the mood intimate, yet still filled with acoustic folk energy, the band turned in a beautiful version of Lowlands from the self-titled album. This song is one of many chances for Mitchell to display her gorgeous and powerful voice. Afterwards, the band plucked along right into an upbeat, sing-along feel-good vibe as they delivered a more than fair version of ‘Fair Annie’ from the latest album. This song will hook you right away with lyrics that beckon the audience to stay in the moment with the band.
Among many talents and powerhouse instruments in the band, Josh Kaufman’s guitar playing really got to shine as the opening riff of ‘Magpies Nest’ from the debut album fried our brains with excitement. The mysteriously beautiful notes mixed with his feel is a recipe for a magical and special concert viewing experience. Next they delivered ‘Green/Green’ a B-side that was initially cut from the debut album but released later that year. After hearing this live I’m baffled at how this song did not make the album!
I can’t think of many bands that have a song title to match their band name, but if any group out there can do it, it doesn’t shock me that Bonny Light Horseman can. This mid set stunner really gave Mitchell the chance to sing her heart out, belting her beauty throughout the room. After this intimate tune, the energy picked up for my favorite song from the new album ‘Sweetbread’. Mitchell and Johnson get into a fun hand-motion groove while they sing, which seems like a technique they use to help keep their chemistry and musicianship intact while performing.
‘Gone By Summer’ followed, another mellow yet extraordinary new track from the latest album. This transitioned into a fan-favorite ‘The Roving’. Although the track title may put you in the mindset of a calmer and sadder mood, ‘Someone to Weep for Me’ from the latest album, turns out to be one of the most uplifting, upbeat songs in their entire set. Next, they played ‘California’, the first single off the new album, which definitely stood out as one of the highlights of the night.
The focus shifted to Mitchell’s lead with ‘Fleur de Lis’, a beautiful singer/songwriter tune that began to wind down the bands set for the show. ‘Jane Jane’ from the debut album followed, which fired the audience right back into singing and dancing mode as this song also begs listeners to partake in the fun energy. The band closed their set with ‘Cold Rain And Snow’, but we knew it wouldn’t be long before they all returned to the stage for an encore.
Bonny Light Horseman returned to the stage to perform ‘Summer Dream’, a gorgeous track from the new album, and left us all begging for more with the final song of the night ‘Bright Morning Star’. What was extra special about the final song was that it was performed totally acoustic around one microphone. Make sure you go see this band ASAP!
Scott J. Herman