Live Review: Neil Frances, Touch Sensitive, PawPaw Rod – The Novo, Los Angeles, CA
Under the radiant lights of The Novo on November 4th, 2023, Neil Frances crafted a mesmerizing hometown show. The venue was primed by openers that included the charismatic PawPaw Rod and groove-master Touch Sensitive, both of whom expertly set the stage for the main act’s vibrant performance.
PawPaw Rod launched the night with a 50-minute set, with his single “Beautiful” quickly proving to be a crowd favorite. His unreleased track “Get Back” carried a sentimental weight, as the Oklahoma-raised singer-songwriter shared a story of how his hometown supported him starting out, while it was balanced by the lighter and fan-favorite “Lemonhaze.” The mood turned communal as he lit a joint on stage, embracing a shared moment with the crowd. His breakout song “HIT EM WHERE IT HURTS” seemed to resonate with every sway and cheer from the audience, encapsulating his infectious on-stage presence.
Watch PawPaw Rod’s “HIT EM WHERE IT HURTS” music video below
Following up was Touch Sensitive, whose 30-minute performance delivered a rhythmic, bass-driven, musical journey for concert-goers. Although he stood alone on the stage, his music emanated a warmth and depth that dissolved any sense of solitude. The crowd’s energy notably surged as he introduced Florian to guest perform on his 2017 Visions track “Lay Down.” Florian’s encouragement for applause was warmly received, and Touch Sensitive expressed sincere gratitude, especially acknowledging the significance of playing in a city he had not performed in some time.
Watch Touch Sensitive’s “Lay Down” lyric video below
Then came the main event. Neil Frances took to the stage in matching white outfits against the backdrop of a giant television screen. They kicked off with 2023’s It’s All A Bit Fuzzy‘s “Standing My Ground,” a gesture that indicated they were there to make a statement.
The band orchestrated more than just a live performance of their music; they sculpted an atmosphere, bathing the stage in black-and-white for “It’s like a dream”, from 2022’s There is no Neil Frances. With each song, from the 2020 single “Games” to “Took A While” from their 2018 EP, the band managed to perfectly pair visual elements with their signature sound, enhancing the audience’s overall experience.
The introduction of PawPaw Rod for their collaborative single, “High,” was a standout moment, blurring the lines between performer and fan, as the crowd followed orders of “raising their hands” throughout the performance. The energy only amplified from there as Neil Frances wove through their discography, with “Ask Me Anything” introducing a rockier edge to their sound, showcasing the versatility and rawness of their live performance.
The inclusion of St. Panther for “Let’s Break It Down” and dreamcastmoe for “She’s Just The Type Of Girl” celebrated the spirit of collaboration, with each guest artist adding their unique flair to the set. Their cover of Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You” was a unifying high, as the live performance encouraged the entire venue to move in sync with the timeless groove.
Watch Neil Frances’ “Let’s Break It Down (featuring St. Panther)” below
As the night wound down, the introduction of their “Kiss Cam” during their Womack & Womack cover of “Teardrops” was a playful touch, and “Dumb Love” offered a powerful finale to an evening complete with guitar-driven anthems and dance-fueled rhythms.
It’s clear that Neil Frances understands their audience, from what makes them cheer and dance to what ultimately connects them to their music. Their show transcended a mere performance, but a heartfelt declaration of their artistry, culminating in a hometown show that felt both grand and intimate.