It’s not easy being an opening band. Every artists pays their dues in this-little bit too early, little bit too short-time slot. But the ones that are really important, the ones that really deserve to be there, are the musicians that put on a show as if they weren’t only a supporting act.
When I heard that Lawrence Taylor was playing a concert in Toronto, I didn’t think about who he would be sharing a bill with; I wanted to see this specific musician, whom I had been following ever since seeing a video of his hit song “Bang Bang” performed on South By South West’s “Showcasing Artist 2016”. The artist, a handsome singer and guitar player from Birmingham, England, no more than 22 at the time, delivered a soulful, bluesy-rock track that went round and round in your head. The best part about the tune … the guy could actually play his instrument!
Tonight, Taylor went from standing alone with his guitar, like in the previous videos I had seen, to fronting a band of skillful, professional musicians. The singer took the stage at Toronto’s famous Mod Club, wielding his favourite white telecaster, and commanded the attention of his audience members.
As someone familiar with his recent EP "Bang Bang", I recognized that the first half of his set was made up of new tracks. While it was clear that Taylor was taking the opportunity to test out his new material (perhaps a full length album is in sight?), he proved himself to be a talented artist and performer. The band’s sound was incredibly tight, with Lawrence, as the only guitar player, showing off just enough to have the girls screaming in the front row. Most of the crowd, quite clearly awaiting the headliner Zella Day, were drawn in by Taylor’s charm and catchy songs.
Later into his set, he began to play the tracks from his EP that I had obsessively listened to since it’s release in March. In these four tracks, you could tell that the young musician was, not only a bit more confident, but also willing to experiment with his arrangements. In “Robyn,” Taylor demonstrated his smooth, legato-esk vocal texture as his guitar sound radiated bright against the spot light behind him.
Taylor concluded his set with his hit single, “Bang Bang,” and “Waiting for Your Love,” another stand out track from his EP. While “Bang Bang” incited some audience participation when the track reached it’s climax in the middle 8, Lawrence really shined on “Waiting for Your Love.” Cranking out a bold and bluesy, Jon Mayer-like solo, the musician brought his instrument to life. Perhaps at times labeled as a singer-songwriter, Lawrence Taylor also cemented his place as a talented guitarist, a refreshing change of pace from many of the acoustic-playing folk musicians who rely on a much simpler and interchangeable sound.
As a young artist, it is clear Lawrence Taylor has a promising future. A true musician and exciting performer, the singer has not only left me with a memory of a great live show, but also has me anxious to hear what is next to come.