The Black Pumas debuted their self-titled album in June of 2019 to immediate praise and adulation. Their psychedelic soul sound was both nostalgic and novel. Hailing from Austin, Texas The Black Pumas consists of Eric Burton, Adrian Quesada and a ridiculous backing band. Their music is intoxicating and immediately relatable. Their musical career screamed to a boil and then was put on the back burner due to Covid. The world would have to wait for the Black Pumas. Soon after restrictions were lifted they announced a massive national tour that would dribble into 2022.
Neil Francis has also had his share of critical success. His first solo LP Changes released in 2019 put him on everyone’s radar. He plays a clavinet with an improvised whammy bar and a voice like Leon Russell’s. His sound dials back to a bygone era when New Orleans and piano men dominated the musical conversation. In short Neil Francis is incredible. During the pandemic he and his band cranked out yet another release entitled In Plain Sight available for preorder now. Their opening set at the Mission lasted just short of an hour but it packed a powerful punch. The show was part rock, part soul explosion and part cabaret. Francis talked to his crowd in between rowdy tracks like “These are The Days” and “This Time.” His band lived in the pocket allowing Francis to go absolutely nuts on the keys. He closed his set with the Southern Rock tinged “Can’t Stop The Rain.” Neal Francis is on his way to the top plain and simple. He gathers gobsmacked fans wherever his finger hit the ivory. He’s going places and you should get on board while the getting is good.
Speaking of going places, The Black Pumas have become huge headliners in a very short span of time. They are just good at what they do and their sound can fill any room. Their music is addictive and honestly I can’t wait for the next record. The Beatles’ “Because” crackled through the PA as the Black Pumas took their position on the unlit stage. The audience pulsed with anticipation as the lights went up and the band broke into the soulful “Next To You.” Burton moves around the stage like a dancer looking for different places to connect with the audience. It didn’t take long before he was on the speakers, then over the barricade and in the crowd. He was mobbed as he kept pace with the band vocally never missing a beat. Fan favorites like “Old Man” and “Know You Better” came early in the show. The lights set the mood and the massive illuminated Pumas logo would appear behind the drum kit sporadically. Burton’s machine gun vocals danced with Quesada’s rhythmic riffs on “Black Moon Rising.” As they went into “Mrs. Postman” Burton asked the audience to join in before they took the show the next level with the anthemic “Stay Gold.” They closed their incredibly memorable set with an extraordinary “Oct 33.” The Pumas returned for a quick but solid encore with their hit track “Colors.” Simply put this band is one of the best acts touring today. They have no issue transferring the magic of their album to the stage and the entire production around the band is top notch. If the Pumas are coming to your town punch the ticket and take the ride. You won’t be disappointed.