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Concert review: Dave Hause and Northcote kick off 2014 tour

After a successful tour across Europe in the late Fall, Philly native Dave Hause returned to the Northeast this past weekened to kick off his North American tour that will end in Early April. Hause, and opener Northcote (Candian singer Matt Goud), will cram in 60 dates over 10 1/2 weeks, trekking across Canada and swinging back across America to his home territory of Philadelphia again, just in time to see the beginning of a whole new season different from when they started.

Dave Hause and Northcote begin North American Tour
Dave Hause and Northcote begin North American Tour
Lorraine Schwartz
Dave Hause at Asbury Lanes
Dave Hause at Asbury Lanes
Lorraine Schwartz

Thursday night in Asbury Park, NJ was a great start to the pair's trans-seasonal adventure, when they played the beach town's Asbury Lanes. In late January, the Jersey Shore is not quite the treat it is in the Summer, replacing slow strolls on the boardwalk on balmy nights with sprints across snow covered streets in search of warm shelter. Well, "almost warm" shelter in the case of Thursday, which unfortunately saw the Lanes experience heater failure that prompted many concertgoers to keep their winter jackets on for the duration of the show. This included Hause himself, who sported a parka at the beginning of his set.

But sure enough, as people began to crowd the stage to get a closer look at Hause (and brother Tim, who helped on keyboards, guitar and backup vocals throughout the show), body heat helped as crowd members sang along to the music, forgetting about the cold outside and focusing on Hause's performance on the stage set up between actual bowling lanes. Northcote, on his first American tour, also received a warm welcome despite sound problems that plagued the singer during his first few songs. Goud returned to the stage later to join Hause on "Same Disease" and "Benediction" off of Hause's latest album "Devour", as well as "Prague (Revive Me)" with Tim Hause helping on the mic as well. As part of the finale, Dave paid tribute to his favorite hangout, singing "Meet Me At The Lanes", off his last CD "Resolutions."

Friday night was a not-so-familiar stop, hitting up Gloria's Pub 151, located in Newburgh, NY. While it was a considerably smaller venue than the night before, Hause and the small crowd worked together to make it a memorable night for all.

The show was much like watching a friend's band play a basement party, taking place in the fairly dark annex of a small neighborhood bar that was undecorated aside from promotional mirrors from Guinness, a Budweiser dart board, stray pieces of duct tape on the wall that probably once held up a band backdrop, and an unplugged Boxer arcade game stored in the corner. The lighting was scant, using a single overhead light to focus attention on the stage that rose only a few inches off the ground. Just before the performance began, staff members had to ask the crowd to part so they could move the stage-front pool table off to the side to make more room. But the unsophisticated environment did not keep it from being a great show.

At first the crowd seemed too shy to get up close to the performers. Opposite from the night before, the building's heat was almost unbearable during Northcote's set, which could have been one reason why people chose to stay back. But in this reporter's experience, people seem to keep their distance in these intimate situations regardless of room temperature, perhaps afraid to admit to themselves that they secretly wish to get closer to the action. But Hause didn't let them get away with it. Right away the powerhouse singer asked everyone to take a few steps forward before he got the show going, breaking down the invisible wall of fanboy/girl shame. This literally and figuratively brought Hause and his crowd together, allowing people to let loose a bit more as a group, rather than remain individuals trying to politely keep their distance from each other.

Though it was a small crowd in a quiet upstate NY town not known for making or breaking music careers, Hause and his opener still gave 100% to their audience. Regardless of the number of people watching them or how prestigious the venue they're playing is, it's obvious both performers are grateful that anyone came out to see them play at all. Check out the singer-crowd bonding here, where Hause literally unplugs to sing along with his audience for a few moments during "Time Will Tell." After the show, both men were happy to talk to the fans by the merch table, signing posters and taking photos with those who braved the freezing cold to see them play.

Hause will return (with Northcote) to the NYC area when he plays Brooklyn's Knitting Factory on April 4th. Check out Dave Hause's official site to see when he's coming to your neck of the woods! You can find out more about Northcote at Northcotemusic.com.

Check out my photos from the show here, with additional (ad-free) shots from the Lanes here and Newburgh here. You can follow me on Twitter at @ConcertExaminer!