William Elliott Whitmore's deep baritone is one of the most genuinely soulful voices in music today. So why is it then that Sunday night at The Red Palace wasn't the best damn show I ever saw.? Well that’s probably my own problem, because the rest of the crowd in attendance had the time of their lives.
Yes, The Red Palace was filled (and I mean FILLED) with the devoted, the followers and the down right true-believers of William Elliot Whitmore, and to them, this show was nothing less than special. First and foremost (beyond that ridiculously incredible voice that is) Whitmore is a performer of the highest degree. No only that, he knows his audience. Hell…he's one of them. He may sing traditional dirt farmer blues, but he's also got ties deep into the hardcore/punk scene and all his friends showed up, fully sleeved and ready to rock…softly.
It's this sense of community that makes a William Elliot Whitmore show feel more like you're hanging out with good friends than are at some club and in this he succeeds in spades. Whitmore, addressing the overcrowding problem even invited fans to come up on stage with him…just "don't touch my whiskey". And they did! Littered around Whitmore for the remainder of the performance were his adoring fans. Again, it's this type of stuff that makes for a GREAT show, so what exactly is my freaking problem?
Clocking in at almost 2 hours, it's important for the people in attendance who aren't the devoted, who aren't the true believers that the show have some sort of dynamics. There has to be some ups and downs to the ride, or else the people onboard tend to lose interest. Strip away the (fantastic) audience interaction and what we were left with was a fairly one note show. To be fair, it’s a wonderful note, and you do owe it to yourself to see Whitmore when he comes to your town. I just personally feel that there needed to be something else to it. Sure there were moments, including a cover of Bad Religion’s "Don’t Pray On Me" (which was excellent) and an unexpected rendition of Bill Withers "Ain't No Sunshine", but this came closer to the end of the whole thing than the start.
Now before any of you William Elliott Whitmore fans decide to have words with me, let me explain something. I think Whitmore is a remarkable performer, singer, songwriter, what have you. I just sort of want more from his performance. Objectively it was a great performance, it’s just one that I’ve seen before. It’s important for an artist to do shows like this (even if this type of show is all they do) because it connects them and their fans on a much deeper level than most artists are willing to go to.
Whitmore had audience members ordering beers for him, joking with him, sitting at his feet as he played. Like I said before, it was one big party for him and his new/old friends for the evening. But maybe it’s time to invite a few more people to the party and see how good that can be. Bring some other musicians out on the road and put the songs in a band context like he did with 2009’s Animals In The Dark. I want to see that show when you come around next time!
But really, I just need to stop worrying about it, because at the end of the day, nobody, and I mean nobody sings like William Elliot Whitmore, and any chance you have to see him perform is one you should take. So next time you’re sitting on stage next to Whitmore, consider yourself lucky.
Just don’t touch his whiskey.