It noisily moves across the nation like a four-man, air-tight, funky, harmonious pop Special Forces unit; Eric Hutchinson’s “Anyone Who Knows Me” American Tour is now here and you should not let it pass without seeing it.
The launch came a few weeks back at the Highline Ballroom in Downtown New York City, Hutchinson’s home turf. The wiry, vocally elastic, 36-year-old multi-instrumentalist and mighty songsmith has released a new album, Easy Street, arguably his finest, most diverse collection of songs yet, which is saying something. Like his previous three studio efforts, Hutchinson has crafted a pop libretto in which to better serve his dynamic stage show, which over the years has transformed from a one-man, one-liner intimate presentation to a full-out James Brown-style extravaganza. This one is different, and I believe, after covering Hutchinson now for over a decade, it is his finest.
The band, now called The Believers (Elliott Blaufuss – keys, guitars, vocals; Ian Allison – bass, vocals; Bryan Taylor – drums, vocals) is a supple extension of Hutchinson’s musical zig-zags through several styles; funk, pop, rock, ska, ballads and sing-a-longs. Wherein the past he’s displayed moments of brilliance in a band setting, none of it compared to his seminal solo performances that catapulted him on the scene and endeared him to his growing fans. The Believers, most pointedly Elliott Blaufuss, with his effortless switching between musical personas from lead guitarist, background vocalist, accompanying keyboardist, and all-around crowd pleaser, frame the essence of Hutchinson’s expansive repertoire.
On this tour, Hutchinson and The Believers aim to please; cranking out highlights of his entire catalog; his most popular (“Tell The World”, “Forever”), beloved (“Rock and Roll”, “Breakdown More”), and brand new soon-to-be staples (“Good Rhythm” and “Dear Me”). In turn, the man in front seems to be having the time of his life. “I’m so proud of the show, The Believers and I put out there every night,” says Hutchinson. “I’ve been touring like crazy the last year and a half. I haven’t been on the road this much since I first got signed to Warner Bros. Records 10 years ago. I spent all last summer opening for Kelly Clarkson and Pentatonix in these massive venues, including Staples Center in L.A. and two nights at Radio City Music Hall.”
All of this road work has refined Hutchinson’s performances and breathed new life into his work, both with the band and acoustically, embracing his roots in a new way. For instance, fans will get a real treat during a truly stripped down and slower version of his 2012 hit, “Watching You Watch Him”, which originally premiered on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy in September of 2011. After regaling the audience with a wonderfully revealing origin of the song, Hutchinson played it “as it was meant to be heard”, alone and endearing.
But, in the end, this is a rousing rock and roll and soul review; replete with many dance numbers and if the New York audience was any indication, sing-a-longs galore. From heart-thumping version of his Stax-laden “The Basement” to the multi-layered versions of “Okay, It’s Alright”, “You Don’t Have to Believe Me” and one of the best versions of “Love Like You” that I have heard to date.
“It took me a while, but by the end of that run of shows last year, I could look out at a sea of 10,000 people and feel in control of that crowd and understand how to work that entire arena,” says Hutchinson. “Now I know how to lead an audience of 10 or 10,000, so boiling that live show down for our headlining run in clubs has been fun and challenging. This is my last tour for a while and I’m doing my best to be present, reflect on how many times I’ve been through these cities at different stages of my life, and enjoy every moment of this run.”