JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

July 23, 2013
The Casbah
Durham, NC USA
Review by Nolan Smith
Photos by Nolan Smith

Andrew Belle

"Black Bear" Tour

Chicago native Andrew Belle is starting his second tour this year, this time to promote his soon to be released album "Black Bear" on 8/20/2013. Andrew is also currently working on another musical project called "10 out of Tenn" with other artists who have migrated to make Nashville, TN their home. What has been released to YouTube or other online sources looks quite promising.

Amongst the 10 out of Tenn collaborators is Trent Dabbs whom opened for Andrew Belle this evening at a half packed venue of the Casbah in Durham, NC. Holding a maximum capacity of 288, I was amazed at the small turnout. Perhaps the good people of NC have not heard the greatness that was Andrew Belle's first album "The Ladder".

Trent Dabbs is a very confident singer and songwriter and from first impressions it appears he has good reason to be. He has a familiar voice which is easy to listen to. Songs such as "Leave to see" got the crowd to sway in rhythm. Something I'd not see before was Trent's use of a projector to show his backup bands professionally pre-recorded set playing all the back-up music for his songs. It was a clever move that I thought worked well and helped take attention and pressure off a one man stage act. A successful opening to the show.

Having been a fan of Andrew Belle this was my first time to see him perform live. Curious how the artist will translate to a live show always makes me slightly apprehensive. However it's times like tonight that seeing Andrew Belle live was a tremendously confirming performance of his musical talent and vocal gifts. I couldn't have expected he nor the 5 piece band to sound better or more together than they displayed this evening. This is the reason to go see live small and independent artists.

Andrew acknowledged to the crowd on several occasions that he was going to be playing a lot of songs off the new album, which was assumed by all. The only complaint I have of the show was the set list. However, it is a rather major complaint. A 13 song set followed by a half hearted version of "In My Veins" as an encore. I counted 8 songs off the new album and only 1 from the previous album which he selected the title track "The Ladder" to play. The crowd erupted with delight in recognition of a familiar song. An unfortunately rare occurrence on this night. When walking offstage the entire audience seemed to be asking why didn't he play ... Fill in the blank. Most commonly overheard was the gut wrenching absence of his hugely popular song "Static Waves".

The unfortunate problem in having such a set list is that the album is not on sale for another month. Therefore you cannot even buy the album after the show if you wanted. Compounding the problem is that no one in the entire audience has heard a single song from the album yet. It literally was like going to see one of your favorite artists and hearing them play nothing you recognized all night. A bit of a let down. Now, that being said, all the new songs off the new album sound very good and hopefully will be a strong follow-up effort to his first album. If it were on sale tonight, I would have purchased it as I feel most of the adoring mob would.