|photo by Alex Petch|
On Sunday night, I caught Elton John’s second show at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
An added bonus was Bright Light Bright Light (a.k.a. Rod Thomas) - easily one of the best opening acts I’ve seen all year.
In addition to performing on West Coast dates, they also did a U.K. and European tour together recently.
Life is Easy, the impressive full-length album by Bright Light Bright Light, came out this past July, while his I Wish We Were Leaving EP - whose title track features a duet with Elton John – emerged in the spring.
"I Wish We Were Leaving" is about “accepting your relationship with someone you care about – friends or lovers," said Thomas, upon its release. "Sometimes you end up wishing for more from than they're able to give – so it's better to be honest about what your actual relationship is and enjoy it for what it is."
A surprise call prompted the collaboration with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer, long known for championing under-the-radar artists.
"When I was producing the song on a very dramatic rainy day, I had a phone call from Elton saying he liked my first album, which blew my mind," Thomas recalled. "From then, I kept hearing his voice on the track. In time, I played him [the song] 'I Wish We Were Leaving' and he added his vocals. Although it wasn't written as a duet, I love that his voice taking lead in the second verse is a reminder that every relationship has two sides and two voices."
"Working with Bright Light Bright Light was a challenge for me as I love Electronica but am quite ignorant on the recording process," explained John in a press release. "I had to sing in a completely different way which I really enjoyed. The song spoke to me as soon as I first heard it, and I think that the combination of our voices is ethereal and beautiful... as is the song."
During the 25-minute opening set in L.A., Thomas added percussion to some of his electronic pop songs and was accompanied by a drummer and synth/keyboards player. From the stage, he graciously thanked Elton John for taking a chance on an independent artist from the Welsh countryside.
The sumptuous Life is Easy tracks easily transcended the cavernous arena. “More Than Most” featured a prominent piano line, delicate vocal delivery and positive lyric: “try to let your heart out from wherever it may be/let it feel the sunlight.”
A sensual, high energy “I Believe” was marked by a tasty percolating synth line. Then there was the danceable performance highlight “An Open Heart” (dedicated to Elton), with prominent lush synth and Thomas hopefully singing, “you need to hold onto a good thing and let yourself believe in all the love that comes.”
Fans of The Postal Service, Erasure (Thomas has done a remix of the British duo’s single "Make It Wonderful"), Midge Ure and Moby would be wise to check Bright Light Bright Light’s music out.