Leon Bridges Shines at Forest Hills Stadium

Leon Bridges Shines at Forest Hills Stadium

August 19, 2022

Leon Bridges – Forest Hills Stadium – August 18, 2022

Sam Cooke’s style was a product of the more conservative early ’60s — always relaxed, shirt sleeves, frozen in time. That’s who vintage soul singer Leon Bridges was trying to be when he first arrived in 2015, playing archtop guitars and wearing hemmed pants in black and white in the video for his debut single, “Coming Home.” Bridges has recently seemed eager to move past the Cooke pastiche he made his name on, by progressing chronologically past the Cooke era (he was killed in 1964). Since a debut album also titled Coming Home, he’s tried on funk, disco and R&B. In 2020 he collaborated on a joint EP with the cosmopolitan 1970s psych rockers Khruangbin called Texas Sun, and last year he released Gold-Diggers Sound, a hesitant step toward the present.

At Forest Hills Stadium in Queens on Thursday night, Bridges had certainly left the monochrome era behind. Looking more like Al Green or Otis Redding than Sam Cooke, in an all-white suit and glittery shades, Bridges was doused in gold by a stage designed by Lüz Studio, which used AI to project real-time images from the stage on a giant screen and cloak them in gauzy, Soul Train-esque filters and visuals. The ’70s trippy-ness, a smear of funk ostentatiousness, disco sparkle and Khruangbin-y psychedelia were pretty neat, like watching a silver-screen biopic (or late-night infomercial) unfold before your eyes and having the show fed back to you as a nostalgic dream as it’s still happening.

Bridges himself stood in the center of the haze wrapping his velvety voice around hits from across his discography, including his Cooke-ish Coming Home songs. A band playing pillowy bass and rock-and-roll drums was ready to boogie. Even as Bridges professed his inspiration for ’90s R&B, the audience was certainly brought back to an earlier time. —Adlan Jackson | @AdlanKJ

Photos courtesy of DeShaun Craddock | www.dac.photography

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