Hamilton Leithauser has released three studio albums since he began his solo career in 2014. Prior to that, Leithauser was the lead vocalist of indie rock band The Walkmen ( Christopher Romano / Connector Staff )
On the night before a New England blizzard, over 500 people showed up for a sold-out concert at The Sinclair in Harvard Square. Hamilton Leithauser began his US East Coast tour last Thursday in Cambridge supporting I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, his Fall 2016 album co-written by Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend.
Lucy Dacus opened the show at 8:45 playing a seven song set. Dacus and her band played songs from her only album, No Burden, along with some yet to be released tracks. The band put a donation jar next to their merchandise table for Rosie’s Place, a local charity in Boston. “You guys are our guinea pigs for this idea,” Dacus said. They plan to make donations to local charities at every stop of the tour. The band ripped through their set in just under 30 minutes.
About 15 minutes after the opening band finished their set, the headlining act took to the stage. Leithauser started the show with a Bob Dylan-like harmonica introduction. “You Ain’t That Young Kid” previewed what direction the night was going in. From slow, White Album like jamming to folk rock, the song perfectly foreshadowed the rest of the evening’s performance.
Though this tour is in support of the Leithauser – Batmanglij record, Leithauser slipped some of his songs from Black Hours into the set list. The album, released in 2014, also features Batmanglij as a collaborator. From this album Leithauser and band performed “Alexandra,” which, if the audience didn’t know the words to, easily figured them out and sang along. A slow rocker, “I Retired,” was described as “One to keep on chugging along to” by Leithauser. Later in the night, “11 O’Clock Friday Night,” had the whole venue dancing.
Leithauser wasn’t one to talk much between songs early in the night. When he did talk to his eager audience just before “In A Black Out”, he told them to “Bring it down for this one. It’s a School night.” The audience, ready for snow, replied, “No school tomorrow!”
The pinnacle of the night was when the words “I had a dream that you were mine” were sung. “A 1000 Times” was the crowd favorite. Everyone in The Sinclair was singing along with Leithauser. The song has a melody that sounds so familiar, but is completely original. Leithauser managed to give off the same energy he produced on the recorded version. The strenuous vocals that he provided throughout the night were not unnoticed.
Taking a break from singing, Leithauser told a story about the next song. “The Bride’s Dad” was written about a wedding he had attended. The father of his distant friend showed up, however was unwanted. As people grew more uncomfortable, the father began to sing a song for his daughter who was soon to be married. The wedding guests got upset, and ultimately ended up throwing the father out of the wedding. “I must have been the only guy there who liked him,” Leithauser claimed.
Next came “Rough Going (I Won’t Let Up).” The band thanked the audience for coming and wished them all a nice snow day. They walked off, and after a few minutes came back to play “1959” as an encore. Thanking the audience again, they ended the show.
Leithauser and his backing band of three were electric. The band featured a bass player, drummer, keyboard and guitar player, and Leithauser himself playing guitar. Their energy only became more lively as the night progressed. The show was sold out for a good reason, as Leithauser performs effortlessly. It seemed as though he’d done this a thousand times before.