Oooh, that voice! Hamilton Leithauser played a short, intimate set to a (last-minute) sold out Bluebird Theater. At a capacity of 550, the historic Bluebird doesn’t host many larger acts, but Leithauser (aka lead singer of now defunct indie-rock stalwarts The Walkmen) fit the bill perfectly and the show sold out on the day of his performance. There was supposed to be an opener, but they must have canceled, and the event webpage was altered to say ‘Hamilton Leithauser DJ Set’ with the singer finally arriving on stage around 9pm.
The set was quick and the songs faithful to their compositions, but Hamilton’s raspy and soulful voice was the highlight of the concert. I’ve made no secret about my love for his recent project with Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, and the set list consisted of every track from that album (there are only 10) and a couple extra throw-ins, all from Hamilton’s solo catalog (“Alexandra” was an older solo highlight, and there were no Walkmen tunes.) In my opinion, Hamilton ranks up there with Thom Yorke and Justin Vernon as the greatest (and most painful) voices in indie rock. He also displayed his guitar skills, beginning with a flamenco-style finger picking on opener “In A Black Out” which had him solo for several bars before the band joined in.
The singer’s only real monologue the entire night was to explain the story behind “The Bride’s Dad”, a heart-wrenching tune about a deadbeat father showing up to his daughter’s wedding, uninvited. After an energetic but quick performance, the band left the stage around 10pm leaving the audience roaring for an encore. They came out for one more quick turn, but by 10:15 it was all over. It just accentuates how little original material Hamilton has to work with from his solo catalog. Here’s to hoping the Walkmen reunite and dust off some of the older tunes, but for now I’ll have to be satisfied with a tight, energetic set at an intimate and historic venue.