Sean Rowe Revisits Roots With Intimate Performance At Lark Hall in Albany, NY
Writer/Photographer: Zak Radick
Troy, New York native and hometown hero Sean Rowe returned to his roots Wednesday night, making his debut at Albany, New York’s newest venue Lark Hall. In a private performance held exclusively for members of the online community known as “The Listening Collective,” the acclaimed singer/songwriter weaved together an intimate showcase of thought-provoking original music, career spanning deep cuts and a diverse selection of covers songs that ranged from legendary artists like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, to Dolly Parton to Radiohead.
The evening began with a warm welcome from Listening Collective founders, Justin Wright and Tom Connally. In the first of what they hope will be many unique performances to come, Wright explained the group was organized BY music fans, for music fans with an aim of creating a lasting, wholesome community that gives back to its members. For their inaugural event, the collective was honored to welcome Americana troubadour and collar city native Sean Rowe.
Opening the performance with “What Are We?” and “Gabriel,” the bushy-beaded, baritone’s signature voice was on full display early. Following the somber, harmonica heavy “Soldier’s Song,” Rowe would lighten the mood by pontificating on just how filthy an instrument the harmonica actually is. Still bewildered when fans ask if they can try his out, if you ever had an inclination, the answer is a hard “no.”
In contrast to Rowe’s gruff, well-worn, somewhat intimidating physical appearance, the smooth bellowing voice that filled the Hall on renditions of songs like “The Drive,” “Long Way Home,” and “The Very First Snow” felt deeply calming and reflective. With a soulful, Americana-inspired throwback sound reminiscent of musicians like Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, a true highlight of the night came when Sean dusted off his version The Bad Seeds classic “Red Right Hand.” Keeping the energy up with the original tune “Joe’s Cult,” Sean would need a little lyrical help from the audience after a false start on his next cover, Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” an endearing moment of interaction that simply could not happen at this time one year ago. “I won’t Run”, “Promise of You” and “Tomorrow is a Long Time” brought the exceptional set to a close. While the well-behaved audience remained mostly seated throughout the evening, their sustained roar of approval as Sean walked off stage was palpable. Pleading for just one more, Rowe finally obliged. Strapping on his guitar and harmonica one final time, he would send fans home happy with an inspired cover of the Dolly Parton classic “Jolene.”
Compelling, thought-provoking and fun. After Sean Rowe’s terrific performance Wednesday night in Albany, it’s easy to see why this “local legend” has reached the national spotlight. As Covid-19 restrictions ease up, you’ll have plenty of chances to see Rowe this summer. Catch him this weekend at The Lawn at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield and later this month with stops in Middletown, Rhode Island and Pembroke, MA. For a full list of dates and information, click here.