Ron Pope and the Nighthawks at Koko
Ron Pope and the Nighthawks visited the Koko for just the second gig of their world tour on the back of their recently released self-titled debut album.
The band kicked things off with an energised performance of their own trademark brand of American rock, including songs like Hell or High Water and Southern Cross. Complete with brass ensemble, the band worked well as a unit, creating a diverse and interesting sound, one capable of filling an arena setting far larger than the Koko.
Given his recent break from touring, you could have forgiven Ron’s stage persona for being a little rusty but, as the band finished Come to California, the huge roar that erupted around the venue signaled that all in attendance were very much into the swing of things. Ron’s ever-growing confidence was reflected by the sense of spontaneity in his song choices, often re-visiting his older material on a whim. After One Shot of Whiskey the band even paused the set to toast a birthday (a bottle of whisky was aptly passed around!) It was a fun and endearing moment that was characteristic of the concert’s relaxed, easy-going feel.
Nevertheless, Ron demonstrated the ability to touch hearts with a poignant and emotive rendition of In My Bones. This song, with its Beatles-esque melody and chord progression, was truly stunning – the first emotional high point of the night.
Overall, the band struck a neat balance between the stripped-back, melodic songwriting that brought Ron into the public awareness, while incorporating the twang of the guitars, the warmth of the brass and the brightness of the piano to create a sound that pays homage to the band’s roots in American country and blues music. Bad Intentions, for example, was a true big-band number that re-created a New-Orleans carnival atmosphere with the crowd singing and dancing along to the beat.
As the band returned for an encore, you could sense that the crowd had one final wish – and Ron happily obliged. A Drop in the Ocean finished off the evening in beautiful style. As it neared it conclusion, Ron gave up trying to fight against the tide of voices and resigned himself to conducting the chorus that rang out. It was a euphoric moment – the second emotional high point of the night – and a fitting way to finish show filled with honest and well-crafted songs.
Photo: Steven Pisano
For further information about Ron Pope and the Nighthawks and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Hotel Room here: