Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bright Light Bright Light wows Elton John audience in LA

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.

With any luck, Bright Light Bright Light will return to Southern California soon for a headlining show – or at least a tent slot at Coachella 2015.

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