One of the recent highlights of the Summer 2018 concert series at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, New York, was the jam-packed lineup of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, The Head And The Heart and Hiss Golden Messenger.
Mike Taylor and his golden-toned messengers began the night with a blast-off rendition of I Am The Song taken from his latest album Hallelujah Anyhow. The lead-single Biloxi, off his previous album Heart Like A Levee followed with tremendous energy and an acoustically-driven percussive pulse that kept the groove strong throughout the entire set.
Next, the band whipped out Red Rose Nantahala from the 2013 album Haw, which was the oldest song in the Hiss Golden Messenger catalog that they performed.
After an energetic and intense version of I’m A Raven (Shake Children), they played Lost Out In The Darkness – one of their current hits from the most recent release. To end their brief opening set they brought the funk for Like A Mirror Loves A Hammer, built up the crowd momentum with the upbeat, rocking Domino and a hit out a powerful Southern Grammar to set the mood for the Head And The Heart.
Last tour, lead guitarist and singer/songwriter Josiah Johnson was absent from the HATH lineup and this time around, their original piano-player Kenny Hensley was also a missing piece of the Seattle-based indie-folk sextet. However, the show must go on and the band still sounds as tight as ever, which the audience learned from the very first few seconds of All We Ever Knew.
City Of Angels, taken off of their most recent album Signs Of Light, was next which is always fun to hear live because of its positive energy and exciting dynamics. Next was Ghosts, the third song of the night as well as their self-titled debut album. The band pumped out fan favorites Rhythm And Blues, Another Story, and Let’s Be Still, just in time for the sun to set, which created the perfect live mood and setting to see them in action.
The Head And The Heart continued to show off their strong, unified energy with five songs in a row from their first album. Lost In My Mind gave the crowd a jolt just before entering the peaceful and mellow world of Winter Song. The attitude remained calm for Heaven Go Easy On Me and began to pick up the pace a bit for Sounds Like Hallelujah.
Down In The Valley usually means the band’s time on stage is nearing an end, but this time they surprised us with two brand new songs in a row, one written by Josiah’s fill in/new permanent member Matty Gervais. The other song has Jon Russell’s ownership written all over it with deep lyrics and raw, soulful melodies. This one is most likely called Living Mirage and its safe to assume that this will be the first single on their next album. In true Head And The Heart fashion they finished off the night with a rowdy version of Shake and a sing-along Rivers And Roads chant.
Both of these bands now prepped the audience for the final act of the night, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, whose new album Tearing At The Seams is surely a contender for top album of the year. The set opened with the first two songs on the album, Shoe Boot and Be There, both of which displayed Nathaniel’s master performer skills with aggressive vocals and animated stage presence. Look It Here came next which is always a fun tune to dance and sing-a-long to.
A special treat in this set was You Should’ve Seen The Other Guy, from Nathaniel’s glorious first solo album In Memory Of Loss. Another highlight was S.O.B. – a big radio hit and grooving jam that showcases Nathaniel’s songwriting genius. In true party fashion, The Head And The Heart came back on stage for Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen, which created a lot of noise and rowdiness in the crowd.
Saturday June 9th, 2018 is definitely a night to remember at the beautiful, recently-renovated Forest Hills Stadium in NYC.
Scott J. Herman