“Our goal tonight is to try to get across to y’all how joyous this is for us up here,” announced Matthew E White, the soul and psychedelia maverick behind the Spacebomb label, studio and production team in Richmond, Virginia.
With up to two dozen musicians on stage at any one time, this gig was a sprawling celebration of their first five years. Spacebomb’s house band held it all together, while White was a benevolent figurehead who could have been more selective with his squad of vocalists.
Natalie Prass opened proceedings with the sumptuous country-soul of My Baby Don’t Understand Me, though as one of the stand-out singers on the bill she was woefully underused. The procession of collaborators, introduced by White like a proud parent, were bolstered by the surging brass and sweeping strings. Bedouine emerged as the label’s most likely new star — the Seventies-style folk was bewitching and her flowing tresses rivalled White’s impressive mane.
Just when the evening’s vintage sounds started to feel a little worthy, playful duo Foxygen livened things up with dance routines during the glam rock of Follow the Leader. The British contingent, including Mike Scott of The Waterboys, Charlie Fink and Slow Club, also did themselves justice.
White’s supporting role on guitar might have left fans feeling short-changed, though he stepped forward to sing on the rollicking groove of Big Love. It was a spectacular group finale that lived up to his ambitions for the show.