Francis and the Lights Illuminate The Bowery Ballroom

March 31st, 2014

Francis and the Lights – The Bowery Ballroom – March 28, 2014

It shouldn’t surprise you that someone with a name like Francis Farewell Starlite is the illuminating man behind New York City’s Francis and the Lights. They’ve previously shared bills with the likes of MGMT, Drake, La Roux and Ke$ha. Starlite is a less-is-more kind of guy. He explained in an interview: “Before a performance, I tell myself to only say and play what is important. Ultimately, it’s just to do less, do less, do less. It’s as hard as it gets. I fail at it more than I succeed.”

On Friday night, Starlite crooned the opening lines of “Like a Dream” backstage before taking the stage at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom. His voice wasn’t completely ready, missing a few keys here and there, but he fully made up for it with his jig that’s enthralled many. Donning a black jumpsuit and aviator sunglasses, he quickly warmed up his vocals with “The Top,” and accelerated with a high falsetto resembling Barry Gibb’s on “Strawberries.” Starlite’s pace quickened and his jumpsuit was soon unzipped for the rest for the evening. Bouncing back and forth between keyboards on either side of the stage, Starlite seemed to be unable to sit still or stop from fluffing his disheveled pompadour until he sat at a white piano for the falsetto ballad “I’ll Never Forget You.” The enigmatic singer then treated fans to a pair of new songs, “Scream So Loud” and one yet untitled.

Truly thankful for the opportunity to perform, Starlite ended his set with the folk-tinged love tune “It’ll Be Better” and his signature track, “A Modern Promise,” complete with the exclamation: “They call me Starlite now.” Returning to the stage, he encored with “Striking” and “If They Don’t Come Tomorrow.” The latter had the man of the night basked in spotlight, seated at his keys, which only seemed the appropriate way to conclude the evening. Shifting back and forth from soul-infused ballads to infectious dance tracks, Starlite is best described in his own words, “The idea of extremes: black and white. Black and white could be dark and light. I like that idea.” —Sharlene Chiu