Live review: Austin Lucas, Emily Barker and PJ Bond @ Merleyn Nijmegen

Countryman Austin Lucas has huddled up Emily Barker and PJ Bond to join him on his current European tour. We caught these great representatives of acoustic music at the back of a small venue for a late night show.

It is clear the trio, who only just started their tour a few days earlier, already have a close relationship. They all accompany each other’s sets: Lucas sings the male part of Barker’s single Fields of June (a duet she originally recorded with Frank Turner), PJ Bond borrows Lucas’s backing band, and all of them make a guest appearance in each other’s sets.

Emily Barker opens the night, creating a quiet atmosphere. Her mellow and honest songs hit a different sensitive string without the company of her usual backing band the Red Clay Halo. She delivers her music beautifully, even introducing a new song she’s written as the score for a new movie. We’re excited about that one!

PJ Bond takes over with his own humble folk tunes. He shows gratitude towards the people who have showed up to catch the show tonight, and speaks out a specific thank you to those who’ve watched him before. ‘It seems like a logical thing that if you enjoy someone’s music, you come back and watch them play, but that’s not the case everywhere,’ he says. ‘Especially in America. So thank you.’

The main act carries forward on that same sentiment and seems to genuinely enjoy performing. Lucas is helped on by his band, lifting the mood of the night and opening up opportunity to dance. Their performance is distinguishably more upbeat and the true American country influence is that much more clear.

But it all comes back together at the end of the night, when the three musicians climb down the stage and join the crowd with a single acoustic guitar to play a couple of unplugged songs. Lucas and Barker sing an intimate version of Lucas’s Nevada County Line (also view our AcoustiXclusive backstage performance) and each of them pulls out one last tune, giving off the feeling of actually being part of the music. And that’s the best a musician can do.



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