Lanco Celebrate Romance, Bar Band Roots at Nashville Homecoming ConcertRolling Stone — Chris Parton
“Greatest Love Story” hitmakers Lanco capped the opening leg of their first headlining tour at Nashville’s Cannery Ballroom Friday night, bringing a combustible mix of romance and live-for-the-moment joy to a sold-out crowd of about 1,000 hometown fans.
Having spent the summer on Dierks Bentley’s Mountain High Tour and then their own Hallelujah Nights run, the five-piece band — made up of frontman Brandon Lancaster, guitarist Eric Steedly, drummer Tripp Howell, bassist Chandler Baldwin and multi-instrumentalist Jared Hampton — showed why they’ve been earning a reputation as one of country’s most potent live acts.
Lanco broke out in 2017 with the Double Platinum single “Greatest Love Story,” a freewheeling epic inspired by Lancaster’s own youth in nearby Smyrna, Tennessee, and followed up in 2018 with the propulsive heartbeat of “Born to Love You” — plus a CMA Awards nod for Vocal Group of the Year. Just before Friday night’s show, Steedly shared that the band will spend this week tracking their second LP with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Brothers Osborne). But at the Cannery, Lanco — one of the 2019 CRS “New Faces” class — were focused on soaking up their journey so far, not looking ahead.
“The last time we played in this building, it was a few floors up, to about 15 people,” Lancaster said toward the end of their hour-long set, referencing the cozy High Watt stage on the complex’s top floor. Kicking off their Cannery performance, the band roared through the entirety of their debut album Hallelujah Nights, beginning with an explosive take on its title track, which highlighted Howell’s gleefully destructive drumming and a light show that was right out of Knight Rider. “I can promise you this,” declared Lancaster, playing the rock star, “we’re gonna give you everything we’ve got.”
He made good on the promise, tearing into their memory-making 2016 single “Long Live Tonight” and “We Do,” a proud small-town jam that featured Steedly on a grungy guitar solo. Tracks like “Win You Over” highlighted Lanco’s romantic edge, while the steady swell of rekindled emotions in “Pick You Up” were strong enough to make bad ideas like calling your ex seem smart. “I still got that ’04 V6, and I ain’t seeing anyone / I’ll pick up the broken pieces / I can pick you,” Lancaster sang.
The band continues to cultivate an identity as expert showmen. After bringing out a floor tom for Lancaster to pound through “Singing at the Stars,” he explained how the tradition began when they were just a group of college buddies playing covers in Nashville’s bar scene, and as such, “We know how to honky tonk a little.” With acoustic instruments in hand, the members waded out into the crowd for a medley of country favorites, including John Michael Montgomery’s “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident),” two separate Eric Church hits (“Drink in My Hand,” “Springsteen”) and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” (They also offered a floor-shaking interpretation of the Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.”)
Heading back to the stage for the finish, Lancaster played harmonica on the plucky “Middle of the Night,” before using the playful “Trouble Maker” to show off a few moves he may have picked up from Bentley — like a boxing-inspired mic pump and yet another trip into the crowd, this time to be lifted up by a few strong-backed fans.
As the show wound down, the group returned to the romantic themes that have brought Lanco their greatest success so far. Steedly played double-neck guitar for a sentimental run through “Born to Love You,” and the crowd settled into a swaying sing-along. “Greatest Love Story” was the obvious encore, with Lancaster delivering the night’s emotional crescendo: “We’re gonna be, the greatest love story this world has ever seen.”
Taken as a whole, the joyful message of Hallelujah Nights – both the album and the tour – seemed clear. Whether it’s marrying your high school sweetheart or finding success in a band of brothers, Lancaster believes in the idea that anything is possible.