The Revivalists Earn The Big Time at Radio City Music Hall (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

When the tour was first announced, there was some head-scratching: The Revivalists headlining Radio City Music Hall? Are they big enough? They had been playing on the big stages at Jazz Fest in New Orleans, but it was just a few years ago that they played a not quite sold-out Rockwood Music Hall (max capacity around 50). Turns out, all that head-scratching must have been dandruff-induced as they kept the sold-out Radio City crowd on April 1st rocking and on their feet from the opening beats of the dual drummers to the final bow. 

The band sped through a mix of old and new material, starting with “Criminal”, but the majority came from their last studio EP Take Good Care (Made in Muscle Shoals), which was released in 2020. In fact, they played five of the seven songs on that release (“You and I”, “Oh No”, “Change”, “All My Friends”, and “Wish I Knew You”). Although the show felt like a typical Revivalists’ show, there was an undeniable feeling that they had earned this success and were conscious of stepping up into the moment. They were their usual high-energy selves, with lead singer, David Shaw, bounding all over the stage and constantly connecting with the crowd; but there was something more. All the musicians seemed to also kick it into another gear. George Gekas (bass), Andrew Campanelli (drums), and PJ Howard (drums) seemed fueled by the giant neon, lightning bolt heart that back-lit the stage.

They kept the beat pumping through the entire two-hour set. Rob Ingraham (sax) demonstrated his post-pandemic chops by holding down a two-minute solo on the runway portion of the stage. The two guitarists, Zack Feinberg and Ed Williams (pedal steel) also played some great riffs including a scorching solo by Williams on a traditional slide guitar which he probably pulled out for the first time on stage. The stage lighting was dramatic and punctuated by the simple lightning bolt heart. It alternated between a tight white spot on an energetic David Shaw (or sometimes another player soloing) and full lighting on all eight members highlighting their joy in playing and camaraderie as a band.

However, if you want a Revivalists “cheat code” keep your eyes on multi-instrumentalist Michael Girardot who seems to hold everything together; he has an uncanny ability to punctuate the best songs by climbing to the top of his Leslie Cabinet and flying down to the keyboards with an impossible combination of recklessness, unbridled joy, and precision. 

Although the crowd was on their feet for the whole performance and most fans seemed to be able to sing every word to every song, it felt disappointing as the band left the stage at the 75-minute mark. But, instead of returning for a quick hit or two, they came roaring back out with a fantastic 40-minute encore that started with a great version of Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey” and followed it with great versions of “Soulfight”, “Fireflies” and closed with “Wish I Knew You”.

So, congratulations to The Revivalists – they have earned the big time.

The opener to the evening was The Record Company which put on a strong performance but suffered from a half-empty Radio City Music Hall, which either showed up too late or hung around in the lobby too long to give them the audience that they deserved.

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