Lord Huron is proof that a guy can write decent folk- and roots-based songs, form a solid band, hit the road and make a good living selling tickets and merchandise.
Thursday night, the band from Los Angeles via Michigan performed at the Uptown Theater for the second time in six months. Yet it still drew a crowd of more than 1,300 that, for most of the 90-minute set, rewarded Lord Huron with waves of love and appreciation.
Ben Schneider is the band’s founder, lead singer and primary songwriter. He isn’t a particularly dynamic singer or frontman. His warm tenor aptly services his songs, which are typically melodic, well-crafted and often fortified with dynamic instrumental flourishes but take few risks or dares.
Lord Huron is touring on “Strange Trails,” released in April, three years after its predecessor and debut album, “Lonesome Dreams.” “Trails” departs from the sounds of “Dreams,” which positioned the band among pastoral folkies like Fleet Foxes and Band of Horses. “Trails” is less rustic, veering toward beefier roots-rock and Americana.
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Lord Huron opened with “Love Like Ghosts,” which sounds like an offspring of “Dreams”: rustic and enchanting, a waft of ephemera. “Ghosts” is the first track on “Trails.” They followed that with the album’s next two tracks: the jaunty folk-roots anthem “Until the Night Turns” and then “Dead Man’s Hand,” a midtempo roots-rock ballad that ended with a heavy gust of guitars and keyboards.
The set list focused heavily on “Dreams.” It included a new song, “The Birds Are Singing At Night,” which is part of the soundtrack to the Robert Redford film “A Walk in the Woods.”
The crowd seemed familiar with most of the new material but more attached to tracks from “Dreams.” Songs like the lovely “She Lit a Fire,” the Bon Iver-est of Lord Huron’s songs, “The Ghost on the Shore,” which was recast as a waltz, and “Lonesome Dreams” all prompted roars of recognition and lots of sing-alongs.
A few songs from “Trails” were flavored with different accents and inspirations. “Way Out There” featured some splendid theremin; “The Birds Are Singing at Night” bore some eastern influences, including what sounded like a sitar; “The World Ender” sounded like a Chris Isaak anthem; “The Night We Met” sounded like a National cover; and the peppy “Fool For Love” bore a Bruce Springsteen resemblance.
The biggest moment of the night, however, was the closer, “Time To Run,” one of the most popular tracks on “Dreams.” It’s a galloping folk-rock song, polished and shined, all smooth edges and careful turns, which, Lord Huron has proven, can be a formula for success.
Jose Gonzalez: Much of the crowd was in place for the opener’s sublime set, an hour of rapturous folk songs. His set list included several covers, including Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” Junip’s “Walking Lightly” and Kylie Minogue’s “Hand on Your Heart.”
Lord Huron: Love Like Ghosts; Until the Night Turns; Dead Man’s Hand; Lonesome Dreams; Cursed; The Ghost on the Shore; She Lit a Fire; Hurricane (Johnny’s Theme); The Birds Are Singing at Night; Way Out There; Meet Me in the Woods; The World Ender; Fool for Love; Ends of the Earth. Encore: The Night We Met; Time to Run.
Jose Gonzalez: Crosses; What Will; Hand on Your Heart; Walking Lightly; The Forest; Let It Carry You; Leaf Off/The Cave; Killing for Love; Home; Teardrop; Down the Line; Heartbeats.