Where: The Toff In Town, Melbourne
When: November 29th, 2016
American R&B singer Son Little’s unassuming and humble stage presence is in direct opposition to his powerful voice and emotive lyrics. Little began his set at Melbourne’s iconic Toff In Town venue by acknowledging the audience with a seemingly caught-off-guard “Oh hey!”. From then on, he had the packed crowd entranced.
Born in Philadelphia and influenced by diverse artists such as Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar, Little showcased tracks from his 2015 self-titled debut album during the gig and also slipped in an astounding Bruce Springsteen cover (State Trooper) in between.
Armed only with a guitar and a MacBook Pro to help with some of the percussion and beats, Little amusingly remarked that his band always seems to be late for his gigs, and that they would be arriving any minute. While there was the crowd murmuring during Little’s interaction with the audience, the second Little started playing you could have heard a pin drop in the building.
Before playing his incredibly moving song about racially-motivated violence in the United States, O Mother, Little explained that he hates having to write songs like this, but he writes them anyway.
Having briefly picked up an electric guitar towards the start of the show, Little settled on using the acoustic guitar instead for his performance, which gave us very stripped back and sparse versions of his soulful songs.
Little’s softly-spoken banter with the audience provided plenty of laughs in between his songs, at one point relating an anecdote about how he loved to pilfer his father’s tennis balls when he was a kid and how he has taken to passing around a tennis ball at his gigs, passing it out into the crowd and instructing every audience member to touch it at least once, and then pass it back to Little. Not having a tennis ball on him this night, Little passed around a Buzz Lightyear Pez dispenser instead. It was a small gesture that made all of the audience feel connected, and connected with Little himself.
Little saved what is arguably his most popular song, Lay Down, for towards the end of his set, with the audience which turned into a huge sing-a-long for the entire audience, Little encouraging the audience to sing their hearts out. It was another moment which made the audience feel connected with Little, who obviously likes to make that emotional connection with his audience part of his shows.
Son Little’s laidback stage persona perfectly matches his music, and his incredible vocal range and heartbreakingly beautiful lyrics leave you with a stirred soul after witnessing this incredible performer. Little is destined for great things in the future, and it was a true joy to witness this amazing talent on the Melbourne leg of his current Australian tour.