with Jennah Bell
April 7, 2019 at The Sinclair
Even after two encore songs, the audience was still begging for more, cheering and clapping until finally the house lights had to be turned on to take them out of their reverie.
Emily King owned the stage at The Sinclair, dazzling the audience with her polished, slick and endlessly fun show. With songs dripping in stylish groove and a performance persona that is larger than life yet feels intimate with her fans, King left the audience begging for more.
The opening act for Emily King was similarly stunning. Jennah Bell brought a breath-taking set of songs featuring just her voice and electric guitar. With a voice that seems timelessly connected to the emotive story-telling of classic female country artists and arrangements that bend genres between jazz, blues and indie rock, Bell’s set felt completely fresh.
After Jennah Bell’s set, the crowd waited anxiously for Emily King to step onto stage. Her entrance was worth the wait. She embodied an empowered, badass femininity, wearing a military-style coat and sunglasses. Her stylised, energetic performance style combined with her distinctive outfit felt reminiscent of Michael Jackson in the very best way.
Instrumentation throughout the set was tight with bold bass riffs and electric backing vocals, brought by Rhetta Simone and Shanay Johnson who are also involved with Alabama Shakes. The chemistry between King, Simone and Johnson was effervescent, heightened by moments of choreographed moves. Not only did these moments of synchronization contribute to the incredibly polished performance, it also added a layer of fun that was contagious.
Emily King took her set way beyond just a concert to a full performance production. The instrumentation and layering of the drums, bass, keys, electric, tracks and vocals was considered and always had room for each part to be appreciated. The musicianship of those on stage was undeniably impressive and the rhythms from the drums and bass provided non-stop momentum.
The set was carefully constructed to craft a story arc within the performance, beginning with upbeat, sassy songs like “Remind Me” and “Can’t Hold Me” transitioning to more vulnerable moments like “Forgiveness” and “Teach You”. The audience was taken with King through the story of each song individually and then got the additional satisfaction of the whole story arc of the set, returning once again to upbeat, confident songs as a resolution.
The sweetest part of the show was observing the way that King responds to fans. Each song blew the audience away and the crowd would clap and cheer from the last note of the song until King started singing the first note of the next song. Whenever they cheered, whether it was in between songs or even in the middle of the song, King would hold her hands to her chest, as if gratefully letting their adoration sink in.
It was the first time that one of Emily King’s shows has sold out in Boston and she clearly didn’t take that for granted. Throughout her set, she fostered some beautiful moments of connection with her Boston fans. At one point, she was singing a refrain without words and began to invite the audience to join in. She didn’t just repeat it once or twice though. She walked back and forth along the stage, repeating the refrain five or more times, allowing the crowd to get fully involved as she listened to them from various spots.
Even after two encore songs, the audience was still begging for more, cheering and clapping until finally the house lights had to be turned on to take them out of their reverie. Honestly, I don’t blame them. My reverie continued well after I left the building. Emily King is a sensation.