An Intimate Solo Acoustic Evening with David Shaw at World Cafe Live in Philly
World Café Live 12/20/15 – Philadelphia, PA
By Barry Brandow
Most musicians who are a part of an aggressive touring band like The Revivalists look forward to down time. It’s an opportunity to relax, see friends and family, eat home cooked meals, and sleep in their own beds. Some musicians even use the time to take a nice vacation to get away from it all. Some guys like David Shaw, the tireless and dynamic singer/songwriter for The Revivalists, use the time to write and create new music while bringing familiar music to their fans in a unique format; solo and acoustic.
The Revivalists are becoming known as a seven-piece music machine that creates an explosive spectrum of sound and brings a live energy to their performances that is unmatched by a majority of touring bands. The timing was perfect. The Revivalists just finished their most recent tour in Columbus, Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville Ky., giving David some time to spend with his family that lives close by. Also striking while the iron’s hot after the Revs recently sold out shows in Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia; Shaw scheduled his first solo acoustic tour to include those cities. The abbreviated tour drew large crowds in the selected intimate venues with the show in Philadelphia at the World Café Live being the first to sell out. In fact, it almost sold out immediately and was completely sold out weeks before the date. As a passionate fan of The Revivalists living in the Philadelphia area I’ve been able to witness the rapid growth of popularity here over the past few years. The crowds and venues get bigger and bigger with each visit. I would have been very surprised if the special intimate acoustic show had not sold out. The wavy haired front man, who spends the better parts of a two hour Revivalists show working up a sweat in constant motion, even admits it is a bit awkward doing these toned down acoustic shows.
When David Shaw took his seat on the stage you could tell right away that he was excited to get started. It didn’t take him long to get comfortable as he looked out at the audience and could see many friendly and familiar faces across the first two rows of seats. Most of them were members of the Revivalists Facebook fan page “Rev Heads,” who came out in big numbers to see this special event. Shaw thanked the crowd for coming out on a Sunday night and being part of his songwriting process. He stated that he had plans to play a lot of songs most of the audience might not be familiar with as well as a few favorites. The first song “Pretty Photograph” from the City of Sound album beautifully preceded a few newer songs that David was currently working on and had only played live a few times previously. The next four songs, “Miss Ohio,” “Nobody Knows,” “Hate To Love You,” and “Pressure” were all examples of that. Just like in VH1 “Storyteller” fashion, Shaw shared insight into his thought process about each song. That alone was very rewarding. As an audience member it was really cool to be part of David Shaw’s creative songwriting process. Hearing new songs in their bare boned infancy stage before they are crafted into full band collaborations is a special treat. The dude writes some awesome music! It was also a rewarding bonus to hear songs that we were familiar with as full band super jams become stripped down bare boned acoustic translations. Before David played the song “Amber” from the latest release, Men Amongst Mountains, he told the story of how he met a homeless woman (Amber) shortly after he moved to New Orleans who shared her tale of misfortune. David told Amber that he would write a song about her and if that song ever generated a financial gain he would reward her with a portion of the money he made. It’s actually one of my two favorite songs on the CD.
Again, like Storytellers, Shaw talked about his venture in Kenya when he was helping a friend shoot a short documentary about illegal poaching. He told us how one day he was walking around with his guitar and someone had asked him if he’d play a song for the 300 children in the village. David obliged without hesitation. With 300 young smiling faces looking his way he played one of the Revivalists most popular tunes, “Keep Going.” He told the audience that when he reached the part where he sang “yeah yeah yeah” the children all sang back “yeah yeah yeah” without being coached or ever hearing the song before. He added that it’s been one of his more rewarding experiences in his musical career so far.
The sold out crowd at the World Café handled the “yeah yeah yeah’s” tonight, with a little coaching of course. The fan favorite “Hurricane Winslow” from the Vital signs CD makes rare appearances in the bands recent sets, but has a steady home in Shaw’s acoustic shows and had the entire room singing along, as it had done during every familiar song. The next two songs, “So Strange” and the bluesy “Get Born” were my favorites of the ones that I was hearing for the first time. If I was a betting man I would say they’ll be immediate favorites of fans attending Revivalists shows in the near future once the other six members compose their parts and put it all together. The song “I Wish I Knew You” was most enjoyable in its acoustic translation. I think that was the one song I enjoyed more in that format than the original. My favorite song by The Revivalist, “Soulfight,” completed the set. “Soulfight” is one of those beautifully written and composed songs that sounds good in any format and needs to be heard by every fan of contemporary music. Again, the sold out crowd lent its vocal assistance singing every word. When Mr. Shaw told the crowd that that was the last song he had “planned” to play there were a few passionate fans that groaned because they thought the show was over. Of course David laughed, said he had time for a few more, and took suggestions from the crowd. He also stated that this was an incredibly gratifying night of music and plans to make this experience happen again. He said the sold out crowd made him feel so comfortable that he felt like he was in a room with 200 of his closest friends. After he played “It Was A Sin” and “Stand Up” a few fans suggested he play “Monster” from the Men Amongst Mountains CD. While he tried to explain why it would difficult to play “Monster” in an acoustic format the saddened fans let out a few subtle “love boo’s” that cracked the beloved musician up.
“I Can’t believe I’m being booed in Philly and I promise I’ll be ready to play that one next time,” he said, quickly turning the subtle “boo’s” into a loud applause. “The City of Brotherly TOUGH Love” can be a fitting nickname sometimes. The standing ovation after the final song “Gold To Glass” confirmed this cities immense love for the extremely talented performer. After thanking the crowd David let everyone know he’d be in the lobby waiting to meet, take pictures, sign autographs and spend time with everyone who hoped to meet him. Even though the line was quite long, David stayed until each person got their wish, whether it was a picture, autograph, or some one on one time with him. He always proves me right when I say he is one of the humblest and gracious stars in the music community.
Even though he stated his return to Philly in an acoustic format was definite, everyone in the room knew how special this performance was, and as David and the band grow in popularity there probably won’t be another show as intimate as this one. Thank you David Shaw for making Philadelphia feel special. We only hope we did the same in return.
Video by Ernest Kim (NYC Show not Philly)