On Friday, October 7th, John Paul White kicked off his tour at Atlanta’s own Variety Playhouse in support of his new record Beulah. The weather was more than dreary (thanks Hurricane Matthew) but needless to say it didn’t stop people from attending. White’s “pretty meets dark” performance sent chills through the audience and left everyone wanting more..
John Paul White isn’t new to the music scene (previously half of the Grammy award winning duo, The Civil Wars) but it certainly has been some time since he’s been on the road and even longer since his last solo record. White spent much of last year unleashing parts of Beulah playing small intimate shows accompanied by The Secret Sisters; but since the record’s release he now has a full band and an even fuller sound.
A mystic blue light appeared shining solely on a vulnerable White and the night began with an acapella track “I Remember You”. White’s riveting vocals had the audience in awe as he took us from one haunting track to another. “Black Leaf” and “The Martyr” rolled slowly into another, interrogating feelings of vengefulness and jealousy.
The tempo was consistent and heavy through my personal favorite “The Once and Future Queen”. White and the rest of his band delivered the song with a special kind of grace; one that’s so beautiful it hurts. The song is remarkably somber and tells the gritty truth in wishing the best for someone that can no longer be a part of your life.
However, the show wasn’t all about remorse and sad fairy tales. White took everyone back to the bright happy days of the 60’s with his cover of The Beach Boys “In My Room”. His southern influence and the song’s playful melodies paired well together to create a spin on the classic. Then the band took off into songs such as “Fight for You”, “Simple Song” and “What’s So”, leaving the audience revved up and ready to go. The southern gothic tracks spilled out effortlessly with enough force to take us all by surprise and to coincidently end the show. Or so we thought…
Just when the audience thought we had to part ways and say goodbye, White came back to the stage to thank everyone profusely and to give us an encore.He started by dedicating a song to his wife, an infectious cover of ELO’S “Can’t Get It Out of My Head”. White left his fans in awe at the end of the evening, fully enamored with the new solo material and full band.
Jackson, TN’s The Kernal opened up the evening at Variety with a thrilling set of soulful honky tonk, a true throwback to some of the country music greats that used to grace the Gand Ole Opry’s stage. The Kernal is a showman and a storyteller, with hilarious banter between sets, him and the band mixed a multitude of southern influences with jazz and country. The Kernal, also apart of John Paul White’s Single Lock Records, couldn’t have been a better opener to warm up the audience before JPW slowed us down.
Check out additional photos from the evening by Mike Gerry in the slideshow below:
Watch John Paul White cover Dan Seal’s “Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)”: