Allen Stone bills himself as a “hippie with a soul,” but as his show on Monday at the Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem can attest, he’s much more than that. In a fourteen song set, Stone demonstrated that the intimate setting of the venue suits him much better than say, opening for O.A.R. at Musikfest.
The tour was call “My Favorite Songs, Favorite Stories” and Stone delivered just that. Interspersed throughout his set were musings and tales, with one particularly funny one about getting pulled over with weed punctuating the fact that Stone is soul for a new generation. He may be a spectacled white guy with long blond hair, big hipsterish glasses, and an infectious, goofy grin, but his sound resonates with a wide audience. The diversity of the crowd in attendance was wide ranging and is a testament to not only Stone’s skill as an artist, but as someone who can bridge generational gaps with a style of music not usually associated with getting college kids to concerts.
One of the best parts of his set was his cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Gonna Come,” which he punctuated with a pontification on the meaning behind the song, and how it influenced his thoughts on music. It was a short but illuminating moment, one that cut through and solidified that Stone is as genuine as his music makes him come across. He then followed it up, by no doubt on purpose, with “American Privilege” off of his album Radius from last year.
Stone’s material covered his acclaimed self-titled album as well as several from Radius, as well as a new single, “Naturally”. While all stellar, his evolution as a songwriter is evident in his newer material, with the new single driving home that point. He capped the night with his most well known song, and his best of the evening, “Unaware.” To say that the show was fantastic doesn’t do it justice. Stone’s music on a crisp fall night in a fairly full but small space was just what the doctor ordered.
Moorea Masa, who also served as backup to Allen Stone during the full set, kicked off the evening with a heartfelt set of songs that proved she wasn’t just a backup singer sitting 20 feet from stardom, but a bonafide powerhouse on her own. “The Garden,” a song released just a few weeks ago, was a standout of her set.
The second act, King Charles, delivered an understated set, soaking in the stage in a solitary existence. In a contrast to his recorded work, his set was slower, more nuanced, and yes, sometimes boring. Still, his rendition of his song “Gamble For A Rose” was great, and the more minimalist set better fit the bill for the evening.