The gratitude and energy from both Sexton and the audience March 5 transformed The Knitting Factory from one of Reno’s largest concert halls into the most intimate of venues.
Technical issues threatened to derail his first two songs, but Sexton was poised. “Hello brothers and sisters,” Sexton said quietly, greeting the small but palpably excited crowd before catching his stride with a falsetto-laced cover of the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends.”
He performed without a set list, weaving in and out of songs both new and old and sometimes even jamming on the progressions by Beatboxing and mimicking the sounds of trumpets and saxophones.
Sexton brought onstage the opening trio, Brothers McCann, to sing three-part harmonies. The foursome’s chemistry was comfortable and familiar. It played “My Maria” and “Pine Away” before sliding into a driving, funky version of Billy Preston’s “Will it Go Round in Circles.” The interplay between Sexton’s voice, guitar and the McCanns took the song down a road that seemed to surprise even Sexton, who screamed, “Yeah!” and smiled back at the three singers.
Brothers McCann left the stage and the show settled into a rhythm, with the crowd singing along and Sexton, at times, stepping out from behind the microphone to sing, unamplified, with his fans to songs like “Hallelujah” and “Fall Like Rain.” Just like that, the big man with genteel stage presence and a diminutive crowd had created a performance that enveloped the venue.
Sexton played for almost two hours before an encore with Brothers McCann, “Black Sheep.”
He finished the night by slipping into the poignantly appropriate “This Little Light of Mine.”
“Mixtape of the Open Road” is Sexton’s 10th studio album since he began his career as a solo artist in 1992, and even though he regularly plays concert halls and theaters, he is still without a charting radio hit. He has built a worldwide fan base with grass roots promotion and an indefatigable work ethic; a true David to the music industry’s Goliath. That’s 23 years of writing, recording and touring. That’s 23 years of letting his light shine.
Brothers McCann brought an eclectic mix of acoustic music to the Knitting Factory as the opening act. The trio includes brothers Mike and Pat McCann on guitar and piano, respectively, and Eric White on guitar, as well. Although this supremely talented group of singers shined brightest when harmonizing, Mike McCann stole the show with Zac Brown-like songs “In the Mood” and “Crown.”