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Neal Francis & The Psycodelics at Charleston Music Hall (Photos + Review)

Neal Francis at Charleston Music Hall. Photo by Joseph Nienstedt (@joel8x).

On Thursday, November 30th, the Charleston Music Hall hosted the return pairing of Neal Francis and The Psycodelics on the first night of their eight-date tour up the East Coast.

The two funktastic, genre-bending groups previously shared a sold-out bill at the Charleston Pour House back in February. Their return brought them to a larger room on a noticeably crisp fall evening.

Neal Francis brought with him an epic 11-piece band to headline, which was recently immortalized on the live album Francis Comes Alive, recorded at Chicago’s Thalia Hall in March of 2023.

Francis Comes Alive (2023)

Charleston locals The Psycodelics themselves brought an 8-piece band, including a newly-added brass section of Benjamin Green and James Beaumont, bolstering the already-tough lineup.

This was a night of big sound in the historic downtown theatre. While the cold snap may have kept some Charlestonians at home with the heat cranked, the musicians took full advantage of the spacious stage and warmly delivered the goods.

The Psycodelics

Photo by Joseph Nienstedt (@joel8x)

Kicking off the evening, we had Cam Wescott and the Psycodelics, including Noah Jones (keys), Whitt Burn (guitar), Jim Rubush (guitar), Sean Bing (drums), and Demario Kitt (drums) — plus the brass duo mentioned earlier.

Half of this band, including Cam was fresh off backing up Stop Light Observations on a successful Fall tour that included several sold out dates quite far from Charleston. Now they’re back on the road with Neal Francis crushing their own music.

Cam’s captivating presence, both as a bass player and a frontman, cannot be understated. You can’t look away when he gets in the zone, whirling up the intensity on his bass while howling vocals with precision. And the whole band cooking behind him.

One highlight both from this show and their late night set at Peach Fest over the summer was “Hots.” Drummer Sean Bing (Doom Flamingo) takes over lead vocals for this soul/R&B groove, serenading the audience with lyrics about how he’s “got the hots for you,” and a “burning desire.” Cam brings the harmonies in, and if you can’t tell I’ve got the “Hots” for this band.

See a photo gallery from their set below. All photos by Joseph Nienstedt (@joel8x).

The Psycodelics at Charleston Music Hall – 11/30/23 (Photos by @joel8x)

All photos by Joseph Nienstedt (@joel8x).

Neal Francis

Neal Francis at Charleston Music Hall. Photo by Joseph Nienstedt (@joel8x).

The main event, at least in terms of billing and audience draw, was Neal Francis with his 11-piece band performing a special Francis Comes Alive set.

With the band ready and Francis still absent at center stage, they fired up a groove and got going for a few measures before the man himself took his perch at front and center.

This subtly theatrical entrance was a fitting accompaniment to his 70s-inspired jumpsuit, and the sheer spectacle of traveling with such as large group of musicians. He waved to the crowd and flowed straight into the groove.

The setlist featured choice cuts from all three Neal Francis albums, all high-energy and not afraid to do a bit of experimentation. It would be a crime not to jam a little with such a beastly band, and of course that expectation was delivered upon.

Neal Francis brings a sound that places itself in conversation with the classics of the 60s and 70s, while also delivering a modern freshness in the form of quality original songwriting and evocative performance.

Note the album title Francis Comes Alive as a direct nod to Peter Frampton’s famous live album, Frampton Comes Alive! (1976). And Phish’s Hampton Comes Alive (1999), but we’re not going to talk about that here.

See a photo gallery from Neal Francis’ set below. All photos by Joseph Nienstedt (@joel8x).

Neal Francis at Charleston Music Hall – 11/30/23 (Photos by @joel8x)

All photos by Joseph Nienstedt (@joel8x).