Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA – 10/17/21

Sunday night at Union Transfer Philadelphia, no one present was thinking about it being a work
night or that they should be home, getting ready for the week ahead. The floor was packed in
the standing room only venue with fans of all ages and backgrounds, with one thing in common;
they were all HUGE fans of Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. The excitement was palpable
in the crowd, as the band emerged on the stage. As the spotlight landed on Lukas Nelson, the
audience erupted into enthusiastic cheers. With his cream-colored blazer, matching cowboy
hat, black button-down, sparkling smile, and a gleam in his eye, Nelson looked like the perfect
country gentleman.
The evening of music opened with the energetic, crowd-engaging song from Promise of the
Real’s self-titled first album, “Start to Go.” Having released their 6th studio album, A Few Stars
Apart, in June 2021, the band segwayed into songs from this newest release, including,
“Perennial Bloom” (first single from the album) and “Throwing Your Love Away.” As Nelson
mentioned the new album to the crowd, the rampant applause was proof positive that A Few
Stars Apart had already become amongst the favorites of the fans. It’s clear why the album has
created this level of enthusiasm. During the evening’s set, additional songs from this new
release included the album’s title song, “A Few Stars Apart,” “More Than We Can Handle,” and
“Smile.” Sitting at the piano to play “Smile,” Nelson noted it as being his favorite song on the
new record. Watching Nelson play this beautifully melodic song, under the spotlight, was
heart-grabbing. What’s so special about the songs on this new album is how passionate,
touching and personal they feel. While they feel personal, and obviously come from Nelson’s
heart and soul, they speak to the listener and draw them in. Everyone can feel their own
connection and heartfelt response to the melodies and lyrics. What a testament this is to
Nelson’ songwriting!
Watching Nelson sing makes you smile; his demeanor is just that endearing. There was nothing
about Nelson that shouted pretentiousness or attention-seeking. Rather, Nelson displayed a
reserved confidence, and an obvious desire to share his musical creations with his fans.
Whether the song was energetic, with a contagious beat, like “Four Letter Word,” had a down
home country feel, like “Fool Me Once,” or was melodic and upbeat, like “More Than We Can
Handle,” Nelson’s themes focus on relatable topics and experiences. Oftentimes, the lyrics were
more personal and Nelson shared the origins of these songs (in essence sharing is heart),
including “Austin,” a tribute to his birthplace, “Leave Em Behind,” a song for a friend’s break-up,
and “Forget About Georgia,” about the culmination of his own relationship. Listening to Nelson
attach meaning to his songs made this humble man even more relatable.
Nelson’s melodic, but twangy tone is very distinct….distinctly recognizable as related to the
legendary Willie Nelson. It’s incredibly uncanny, a bit startling, how much Lukas Nelson is a
vocal chip-off-the-old-block. While Willie’s voice is a tad deeper, the two Nelsons otherwise
sound extraordinarily alike. While many young people want to be set apart from their parent(s),
it’s touchingly apparent how connected Lukas is to his father, and how proud he is to walk not
only in his footsteps but beside him. To the crowd’s delight, Nelson spoke of a song he’d
recorded years before with his father, a cover of the Pearl Jam song, “Just Breathe.” Performing
solo, with his acoustic guitar, it was nothing short of heart grabbing….tear jerking.
In addition to the evening’s beautiful soulful moments, the set included plenty of energy and
upbeat numbers, including, “Carolina,” with a spirited, honky tonk feel, that left the audience
swaying and dancing, and “Die Alone,” which took the band and the crowd to another level of
enthusiasm. Both Nelson and bass player Corey McCormick danced about the stage and
amped up the crowd during “Die Alone,” as audience members responded with cheering,
singing and arms raised in the air. Drummer Anthony LoGerfo was especially spirited in his
singing, while passionately playing the song’s rhythmic beat.
This energetic vibe continued with “Find Yourself,” as Nelson reeled in the crowd with long,
powerful high notes, edge of the stage guitar jams, and jack-in-the-box jumps…crouching down
and popping back up, all the while never missing a note on his guitar. The mostly reserved
Nelson from the start of the night, was on fire during this song. McCormack’s energy rivaled
that of Nelson, as he too passionately danced and jumped around the stage. Further engaging
the crowd, Nelson’s request for audience participation was eagerly obliged, with the full
audience joining in, followed by the ladies vs the guys. No one in the packed house wanted to
be left out of this musical party. Letting out a massive scream, Nelson finished the song with
wild, enthusiastic guitar playing that left the audience shouting and cheering.
Each of the band members in Promise of the Real are incredibly skilled musicians. In addition to
demonstrating his musical talents playing alongside Nelson, McCormick opened the encore with
an incredible solo on the electric upright bass, before moving to a traditional bass guitar. Moving
his fingers at high speed along the frets, the deep bass sound was melodic and beautiful. As the
remainder of the band joined for “Wildest Dreams,” McCormick’s bassline remained a beautiful,
rhythmic presence. Keyboardist Logan Metz showcased his talent on the keys, playing a
gorgeous solo piece, as an intro to “More Than We Can Handle.” The band’s percussionist, Tato
Melgar, added an essential layer of rhythm and depth throughout the evening’s set, while
LoGerfo wowed the crowd with his skills as he performed solo before the evening’s final
number, “Something Real.”
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real ARE “Something Real.” Lukas Nelson is an incredible
singer-songwriter, and every band member has amazing musical skills. In this day and age,
when much of the new music is digitally based and created on a computer, this band is just the
opposite….they are something real. Nelson’s songs speak from the heart and soul. He allows
fans to share his feelings, and enter into his musical world, while simultaneously connecting to
their own feelings. Once you have experienced Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, there is
the undeniable desire to experience it again…as soon as possible. Standing by the merchandise
table at the end of the evening, several older women were excitedly speaking about the
performance, and having just experienced Lukas Nelson for the first time. “Now I know what you
were talking about,” one woman gushed to the other. “We have to start following
them…seriously! Where do we go next? DC?” A smile crossed my face as I listened to the
excitement of these women. Once you have seen Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real once,
you really are sure to see them again….because they really are Something Real!!!

Photos and Review by Rebecca Wolf