Bleu @ 12th & Porter / Nashville TN / September 15, 2013

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I am forever grateful to the friend who introduced me to Boston-bred and Los Angeles-based artist Bleu (real name William James McAuley III). My entrée to his work was through a record by The Major Labels, a band he was a part. I soon thereafter saw the first of several of his solo shows at Third and Lindsley (when it was small). All this led to thoroughly devouring the vast musical catalog of this talented and crafty pop singer-songwriter. Looking through his legacy, you will find an impressive roster of his songs that have been recorded by some of the day’s young bright pop stars (Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, and Hanson). But please, don’t let that scare you away. Bleu may be one of the most cleverly entertaining live performers you will ever see.

Bleu makes regular visits to Music City. Forced to relocate from the new and expanded Third and Lindsley, he struggled last year to find a suitable venue resulting in a day-of-show change to a vacant loft space in Marathon Village. For tonight’s show he landed at 12th and Porter which seems to suit him just fine. This evening was sponsored by PledgeMusic, the means through which Bleu’s fans funded his last two records including the most recent, To Hell with You. Joining Bleu as opening act and second guitarist was his lifelong friend, Will Dailey. And, as in the past, Joe Seiders was on hand to provide rhythm on the drums.

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With Bleu, every song is an adventure. The man is a master at uniquely staging each song through use of a variety of unusual instruments, lighting effects, and sound pedals. There is never a problem staying focused at a Bleu performance. However, tonight’s show was fairly timid compared to his other shows that I have seen.  It featured only his illuminated guitar (red for “To Hell with You” and blue for “How Blue”) along with his sound pedal and vocal loop effects.

Unfortunately, the bands had to make a quick exit to start driving to the next day’s show in Annapolis, MD, so Bleu’s set was limited to only 50 minutes. More disappointing was the fact that only about 35 fortunate folks got to see his great performance. Bleu acknowledged the small crowd through his request: “Maybe bring your friends or your church group next time.”

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Bleu’s short but strong set included three songs from the new record plus four from his earlier records. He added his cover of Player’s 1977 hit “Baby Come Back” which he recently recorded for fun on the Drink a Toast to Innocence: a Tribute to Lite Rock by Monsters of Lite Rock tribute record. He introduced the song as being one that people mistake for a Hall and Oates songs. I later wondered if when he said this whether or not he knew that part-time Nashville resident John Oates was one of the 35 fans there. Oates graciously went to the stage to greet Bleu after his set had ended.

Despite the short set and lack of opportunity to visit with Bleu after the show, it was a delightful evening that left me with no regrets for passing up on alt-country up-and-comers Phosphorescent at Third and Lindsley. Bleu has long been on my list of artists that I just won’t miss. I do actually bring friends to see him, and everyone has come back the next time. My church group is next!

SETLIST:

  1. To Hell With You
  2. It’s Night Over (‘Til It’s Over and Done)
  3. How Blue
  4. Dead in the Mornin’
  5. Merry-Go-Round
  6. Baby Come Back (Player cover)
  7. Searchin’ for the Satellites
  8. Somebody Else

BAND:

Bleu—Electric Guitar
Joe Seiders—Drums, Mini-Accordion
Will Dailey—Electric Guitar

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