Grace, class and maturity are not words typically used to describe rock stars. But somehow, they all define the music of Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights - a band of true musicians in an era of entertainers. Yes, there is a difference.
At Sunday night's intimate performance in Warehouse Live's studio, it was easy to tell on which side of that divide the Northern Lights fall. At the young age of 24, Dallas native Tyler hasn't been on the Earth that long, but he seems to have time here wisely. Taking his influences from many different genres, but mostly blues, Tyler has a way of recreating events and occurrences that happen to everyone in a slightly new way.
On "Gypsy Woman," he created a blues-rock melody of liberation. Opening with only the accompaniment of a kick drum and clapping hands, the power of his lyrics cannot be missed in this simplistic form. The Lights are currently missing rhythm guitarist "Kansas," and it initially seemed as if this show might be brought down by the somber mood, but looking around at the audience, that didn't seem to be a problem.
If there were any lingering doubts, the heavily blues-laced guitar solos during "Sunshine" - a ballad, mind you - put them to rest. Lyrically, the song is beautiful, but Jordan Cain's drums and Tyler's guitar took it from a pretty little love song to a beautiful ballad possessing both power and maturity.
Although the band bears his name, the Northern Lights are by no means just Jonathan's band. Getting in on the action, vocalist Mo Brown sang a song of her own as well, something fans have been saying needed to happen more often. Unfortunately, even though Aftermath was standing close to the stage, we still couldn't hear her all that well.
Taking another turn, Tyler decided to take a moment to play some his songs acoustically. Describing his song "Something in the Wind," as about the ending of a five-year relationship, and it was more raw and full of emotion than others. Aware of how serious the room had become, Tyler said, "Let's all drink some whiskey tonight" and prepared to take a sip, prefacing a a cover of Bob Marley's "Waitin in Vain."
The mood changed quickly, as the reggae beat added a little bounce to most audience members' steps. Tyler's vocals were constantly changing from a deep drawl that commanded so much power to a is soft and somewhat vulnerable tone. Though the Northern Lights' lyrics can be somewhat transparent, there is something fascinating about this group - like hurtful lovers and newly found love have never happened before.