It took the Avett Brothers a decade to finally make it to the Netherlands for their first ever show. Why it took them so long? It beats me because the two brothers have proven to be some of the most talented songwriters of the last few years. In their native US they have been on shows like Letterman and Conan and their albums chart high. Here their latest record “I and Love and You” won’t be released until April.
The Avett Brothers fit into the Americana category but are not afraid to stray outside of the genre. It is true that folk, country and bluegrass are the main ingredients of their music but they also show that they listen to contemporary music since it has influences from seventies rock and 80’s punk (one reviewer used the word grungegrass). Their career has developed steadily the last decade and only with the last album ended up on Rick Rubin's label, who also produced their album.
Most of the songs are performed with acoustic guitar, banjo, bass (both electric and standup) and cello. The brothers also use kick- and bassdrums with their feet to add power when the song calls for it. They do change instruments all throughout the show with both playing acoustic and electric guitar, drums and keyboards. Both are accomplished singers but it’s Scott whose powerful voice is the strongest and contrasts nicely with Seth’s softer and higher voice. Songs are performed with power and enthusiasm and the band seemed to enjoy, easily playing for 90 minutes. They add energy to the songs that is sometimes lacking on the albums and broke quite a few strings in the process. I counted at least 8 but would not be surprised if it was more.
Their biggest strength is their songwriting. There are some pop gems like “Kick Drum Heart” and “Slight Figure of Speech”, ballads like “January Wedding” and even a power ballad, the beautiful “Head Full of Doubt/ Road Full of Promise”. They played songs from all their records since 2004 but the most (and best) were from ‘Introducing Emotinalism’ and ‘I and Love and You’. At an Avett Brothers you will jump along, laugh (“Yardsale”), listen to the harmonies and sing along for 5 minutes (“Go To Sleep”).
The Paradiso small room was sold out, let’s hope they will win many more fans and play in the big room next time. After a decade of writing beautiful songs they deserve it and energetic live shows like this can only help their stature.