People have their fair share of criticisms when it comes to Allen Stone. He's inauthentic, they say. He's watered down. He's too safe. But there's no denying the 25-year-old knows how to put on a memorable live show - and damn, he can sing. So to say he stunned the near sold-out crowd at the Paramount on Friday night would be expected. It'd also be an understatement.
Being the 75th (and final-ish) stop on a three-month international tour, Friday's set was not only a much anticipated homecoming show, but the product of what's fast becoming a well-oiled machine. Fact: Stone's bred and butter is his live show. It's where he's gritty and raw and sassy as hell. It's where his velvety falsetto soars, his soulful grunts reach new heights and his hips sway in all the right ways. And where he is becoming most predictable.
Despite his rigorous tour schedule, Stone's been no stranger to the PNW as of late - playing a handful of festivals and one-offs throughout Washington in the last six months.
The upside? Unlimited dance parties for those who remain loyal to his rump-shaking neo-soul. The downfall? A familiar script of cheeky banter, instrumental teasers and the now-expected dance-off.It's for this reason the unexpected moments at Friday's show - Stone's take on Chaka Khan's "Tell Me Something Good," a sultry holiday surprise in the form of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," and the funkified version of "Running Game" - proved most inspiring.
In general, the familiarity is appreciated - especially Stone's ability to deliver sweaty, soulful goodness night after night (even if older cuts "Vibe With Ya" and "Last To Speak" continue to miss the cut.) Sure, Stone sounds good on headphones, but it's his ability to woo an audience that's gotten him where he is today.
Going to an Allen Stone show is more than just bobbing your head and listening; it's about really feeling what he's laying down. That's the stuff people fall in love with. And devour. And what keeps them coming back for more.
That's why, even with a played out script, Stone wins you over, every time. Hopefully he'll bring some new tricks to the stage in months to come.
What I've Seen
Bed I Made
Is This Love?
Tell Me Something Good
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas