Since July, The Marcus King Band has been about as busy as any mainstream touring act could be considering the sepulchral state the music industry still presently finds itself in. This past summer bandleader Marcus King served the masses the incredibly entertaining Four of a Kind livestreams which saw the Greenville, South Carolina musician play four entirely-unique sets of music over the course of nearly a month’s time.
From a rare appearance by the Marcus King Trio that was capped off by a blistering Black Sabbath cover featuring Brent Hinds of Mastodon to a resplendent tribute to The Band‘s The Last Waltz, which included a litany of special guests, the Four of a Kind concert series was easily one of this year’s live music high points.
The virtual summer concert series was subsequently followed by King’s first run at socially-distanced live shows via an early fall tour which saw the MKT primarily play on the dirt & grass laced fields of drive-ins sprinkled throughout the northeast.
This past weekend the 24-year-old guitar virtuoso came out of hibernation once again for a three-night run at 3rd & Lindsley Bar & Grill in downtown Nashville. The three shows in Music City also turned out to be The Marcus King Band’s first attempt at playing inside the confines of an indoor venue in front of ticketed fans since the global pandemic began.
Fortunately for the band’s diehards that were unable to attend the 3rd & Lindsley performances, King made the second night of music at the historic venue available to the public via a livestream by nugs.TV. Night three of the Me ‘N Most of My Friends shows was also made available Sunday evening over the airwaves by local Nashville independent radio station, Lightning100.
The Marcus King Band, alongside regular live collaborators Maggie Rose and Kate Barnette, ultimately delivered an unrestrained, 18-song set on Saturday that focused primarily on music from El Dorado, King’s recently Grammy-nominated solo debut, a few refulgent covers, and even two brand-new songs that had likely never been performed in front of a live audience.
King’s dog Otis running across the 3rd & Lindsley stage served as the impromptu start of the night’s music as the band quickly launched into one of the stand out tracks off of El Dorado, “One Day She’s Here”. The song’s performance included radiant vocal harmonies by both Barnette and Rose as well as a beefed-up middle section that served as a platform for the brilliant horn playing of Chris Spies on saxophone and Justin Johnson on trumpet.
Prior to “How Long”, one of only two songs to make an appearance from The Marcus King Band’s last full-length LP, 2018’s Carolina Confessions, King addressed the Nashville audience directly for the first time. Bathed in blue light King bellowed to the Nashville crowd, “It’s nice to play in front of all of your beautiful faces. It’s just me and most of my friends. We wish we could have all of you here with us tonight but baby steps.”
The Southern born and bred guitar hero seems to have a desire to ensure that fans not only feel welcome at his shows but that they also feel as though that they’re an integral part of something special. These interpersonal connections in turn further hypnotize King’s habitués while also bonding the soulful musician and his bandmates to their audiences in transcendent, almost ethereal ways.
Much of the evening’s music from 3rd & Lindsley this past Saturday night seemed to be primarily rooted in the theme of love. Prior to the appropriately titled “Love Song”, King announced to the Nashville crowd, “This is a love song for all of the lovers in the house. The girl I wrote this for is here somewhere tonight, so give it up for love because I think love is a very important thing.”
“Love Song” and the track that followed, “Break,” both off El Dorado, provided those taking in the performance an ample dose of both Barnette’s and Rose’s bewitching vocal talents while also showcasing some of the bombastic guitar fireworks King has made a name for himself with over the course of this past decade. Although the setlist primarily tilted toward the melancholy there were a few uptempo and quite explosive performances from the night of music in Nashville as well. The first of which came via the band’s take on “Always”, the only song off of The Marcus King Band’s debut record Soul Insight that would make an appearance this past Saturday.
Not only did King go on to display the type of guitar pyrotechnics that will undoubtedly inspire droves of children globally to demand Santa gift them a guitar this upcoming Christmas, the song’s performance also more than proved why The Marcus King Band in its entirety is considered one of this country’s most incendiary live acts.
From new keys player Dane Farnsworth to founding Marcus King Band member and drummer extraordinaire Jack Ryan, each and every musician on stage brought something inspiring to the table which, consequently, made the entire performance come across more intimate and wildly entertaining than most could have possibly hoped for.
As the night came to a close King thanked the audience while also joking with the Nashville crowd, “We’re trying to get you all out of here at a reasonable hour. I know all of you church going folks have church to get to in the morning. So can I get an amen?” With that King and most of his friends launched into an uptempo and boisterous version of “The Well”, the lead single from El Dorado, which served as the swan song for the evening of music from Nashville.
While many have been ducking and running for cover during this unprecedented time of uncertainty in the music industry, The Marcus King Band have continued to find new and, oftentimes, nontraditional ways of bringing music to the people. It would be quite easy to go on a heartwarming and likely far too lengthy diatribe about how performances like the one The Marcus King Band pulled off in Nashville this past Saturday are far more important now than they’ve ever been.
However, perhaps a shortened, more simplified sentiment will be able to get across the myriad of emotions many fans of The Marcus King Band are likely feeling at this very moment.
P.S. More, please.
Watch a video of the show-opening “One Day She’s Here” from The Marcus King Band at 3rd & Lindsley on Saturday below.
The Marcus King Band – “One Day She’s Here” – Nashville, TN – 12/5/20