In the nearly two years of no live music, the act of witnessing someone who has a mastery of the stage puts everything into perspective. The importance of live music and the strength of what an artist can make you feel in that moment which makes what could be lost all the more tangible. Watching David Shaw, singer for the band The Revivalists, performing the final show of his debut solo album release at the Union Stage Saturday night I couldn’t help but think how vital live music is to -– if anything -– the emotional strength of so many.
Produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, Solange, Valerie June, St Paul and the Broken Bones), Shaw’s self-titled debut is filled with personal songs but ones that can make you move. And on a chilly Saturday night, David Shaw and his band did just that — got things moving — at Union Stage in DC.
This was my first trip back to the Union Stage since before the pandemic and, coincidentally, it is the last show I see before the new year. After a fantastic set by the Ries Brothers — multi-instrumentalists Charlie (vocals/drums/bass keys), and Kevin (guitar/vocals/ukulele) — David Shaw along with his band — Chris Gelbuda and Pete Murano on guitars; PJ Howard on drums; Andriu Yanovski on keyboards; and Noah Young on bass — took the stage and immediately the audience began singing along. With that New Orleans-tinted groove, Shaw’s band got that crowd ecstatically moving to the music.
One of the things that David Shaw shows is that love for the audience — reaching out into the crowd and pulling you in (emotionally, but almost physically too). As he played off the band and then, focusing his attention on those eager fans. It wasn’t until the music slowed a bit and those harmonies of “I’ll Be Your Man” and that “you can put your, put your, put your money on me” refrain that immediately made me think of the best parts of The Faces with some old Dr John for good measure.
Taking some time for a breath and to reflect, Shaw reflected, “There is no me without you… This whole tour I’ve been levitating.” That’s one thing I have to say is there is a real sense of gratitude and connection when you hear Shaw perform. And as he started on “The Place,” you could hear him having that conversation with the crowd — “There’s a place I like to go / When my spirit needs to roam.”
Watch David Shaw perform “The Place” live on YouTube:
Most of David Shaw’s set was from his newly released solo album, David Shaw, with some songs he’s been playing for years. And you could feel that these songs needed to be delivered live.
Some of the highlights of the evening included Shaw strutting across the stage and reaching out into the audience during “Bad Side of You,” and during the encore a beautiful version of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” and Kevin Ries of the Ries Brothers joining the band for a blistering solo on “I Can Hear You.” A brilliant end to the night.
So Far Gone
I’ll Be Your Man
Something to This Feeling
Bad Side of You
In My Secret Life
Fade Into You (Mazzy Star cover)
I Can Hear You (Calling On Me)
Got Me Feeling Good
Here are some photos of David Shaw and his band performing at the Union Stage on Dec. 18, 2021. All photos courtesy and copyright David LaMason.