You are here
Home > MUSIC > CONCERT REVIEWS > Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real // Live @ The NorVa // 4.4.23

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real // Live @ The NorVa // 4.4.23

Article and Photos by: Wendy Podmenik Woodell

NORFOLK, VA– How do you match greatness? How do you rise above and beyond a living musical legend, if that legend is your own father? By relentlessly creating, touring, and exploring within yourself- Lukas Nelson is always giving homage to father Willie Nelson but by no means riding on the name and the reputation.

Lukas Nelson and his band, Promise of the Real, stopped in Norfolk during his spring tour to promote his upcoming album, Sticks and Stones, due to be released this July.

Opening the evening with “Sticks and Stones”, it was followed with a cover of Willie’s “Every Time He Drinks”. Then reaching further back into his own catalog, Lukas pulls out “Fool Me Once” and rounds back to “More Than Friends”, a recent duet with Lainey Wilson.

Spinning some rockabilly action with a bit of storytelling, “Four Letter Word” had the audience hooting in approval. A bluesy solo touched on some Beatles for a beat or two. A teasing tickle of the piano segued to acoustic guitar for “Just Outside of Austin”. Stripped down to pure musicianship and no flash, members of Promise of the Real jumped from instrument to instrument, to include banjo, organ, congas, harmonica, lap steel.

Neil Young‘s heavy influence was even evident on tracks that were not collaborations, such as on “Leave “Em Behind”, the guitar intro of which strongly resembled Young’s style. Lukas switched to electric guitar mid-song for a solo. Next up was “(Forget About) Georgia”, with a smile and a shout out to the state of Virginia. Ending with a bow, he turned the energy back up and had the audience stomping along with the fun “Ladder of Love”, from the upcoming album. Nelson and PoTR kept switching up the pace of the night with a easy blend of blues, jammy rockabilly and soulful ballads. Ending nearly every song with a jump and a quiet smile, Lukas worked the microphone expertly. “Find Yourself”, a popular favorite, had the crowd singing along to Lukas’ prompts.

Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)” had lyrics that resonated with fans and seemed to define Lukas’ overall message.

Turn off the news and raise the kids
Give them something to believe in
Teach them how to be good people
Give them hope that they can see
Hope that they can see
Turn off the news
And build a garden with me

And by this time, the band’s guitar techs were dancing at the side of the stage.

Followed by a solo acoustic ballad, the band then re-entered the stage for the last few songs of the evening with a high energy. “Something Real” and the finale “Set Me Down on a Cloud” concluded a set list about 19 songs long. Even though this date was relatively early into the tour, Lukas and POTR already had devoted fans that had traveled from out of state and attended several dates. His solid songwriting reflects traditional values and explores introspective themes that touch on love, family, and self-reflection.

Upcoming tour dates:

Wendy Podmenik Woodell
Since entering the world of photography in 2013, WENDY PODMENIK has focused her interest on live music. Her ultimate goal is to successfully present the live music genre as an art form which preserves the expression, emotion, and energy of specific moments in time. ////// GLENN WOODELL spends his musical time working both on and around the stage. He's spent decades behind the lens as a visual artist, and for his career, studied human vision as a scientific researcher. His time on the stage these days is either spent holding on to a bass guitar or a camera.