Speaking to Holler, Eli Young Band's bassist, Jon Jones, opened up about the group's headspace as they gear up for their first ever UK tour. Jones also shared some insights into the compilation of their setlist, their dream Long Road collaboration and what fans can expect if they're seeing the Texas troubadours for the first time.
With seven full-length studio albums and four US No. 1 singles to their name, Eli Young Band's debut trip across The Pond has been keenly awaited for the best part of 20 years.
Now, thankfully, the ‘Love Ain't’ hitmakers are treating their loyal UK fanbase to three shows in Manchester, London and Glasgow next week, following their hotly anticipated performance at The Long Road Festival 2023 on Sunday, August 27.
It's apparent that ticket-holders’ unbounded excitement is being mirrored by the band themselves, with Jones emphasising, “Going over to the UK has been on our bucket list for such a long time, it feels a little surreal that it is finally happening. We have been getting messages from fans as far back as we can remember asking for us to come over. We are absolutely thrilled for the experience”.
Artists often talk about the noticeable difference between UK and US audiences, with performers regularly referencing the keenness with which international crowds lend them their ears, rather than simply looking for a rowdy, raucous good-time soundtrack.
Jones and his band-mates are aware of this, and they'll relish the opportunity to be malleable when it comes to compiling their UK tour setlist, “It will be interesting to see what songs get the best audience reaction. We might end up changing our setlist quite a bit as the shows progress. So much of the pace and arc of the set over here is determined by songs that were big radio hits but that might be a little different. I think the first show will be a little bit of testing the waters”.
It's safe to say Eli Young Band won't have any difficulty if they do decide to try out some different material during their UK run - which will feature support from Alana Springsteen and Jordan Harvey - with the group having a plethora of fan-favourite singles to choose from.
Out of all the unquestionably strong candidates for the highlight of their set, Jones stresses, “It has been hard to beat ‘Crazy Girl’, even after all of these years of playing it live”.
The chart-topping anthem was released in 2011 as part of the group's celebrated Life At Best project, and it still holds a special place in the hearts of both fans and the Eli Young Band-members, “We have the best seats in the house and it is obvious every night how much that song means to so many people”.
It's endearing to hear how warmly Jones speaks of performing live for fans. An extra dimension will be added to this when they take the stage at The Long Road Festival 2023 on Sunday, before bringing their arsenal of hits to three comparatively intimate stages.
Jones underlines that both kinds of show carry a unique ambience, both for fans and performers, “It’s a lot easier to keep everyone's attention in an intimate indoor venue. That makes it easier to connect with the audience and allows for a little more range with the highs and lows in the set. Sometimes at an outdoor festival, it is just our job to move the party along. Those are the shows where it is important to really maximize the times where the audience is truly engaged”.
Regardless of whether they are playing in front of the liberating pastures of The Long Road Festival or the electric close-quarters of London's Islington Assembly Hall, Eli Young Band are clearly ready to give their all each time they take the stage, “It’s all about being in the moment and making the most of those moments. There are just usually more of them in an intimate indoor venue”.
The Eli Young Band are set to be joined by an eclectic mix of country, Americana and Roots artists at The Long Festival 2023. Although Jon Pardi's withdrawal inevitably came as a disappointment to many, Jon Jones name-checks his replacement, Cam, as the artist the band would love to collaborate with the most, “Sad as the news was about Jon Pardi having to drop out of the lineup, we are huge fans of Cam”.
Touchingly, it seems like the entire Jones household consider themselves Cam aficionados, “Her album, The Otherside, is the record that my six-year-old daughter goes to bed listening to nine times out of ten. I think my whole family can sing along start to finish at this point. Great voice, great songwriting. She would be fun to collaborate with...” Jones adds playfully, “...and I would be father of the year”.
Given the fact that UK fans have been envisioning getting the chance to see the Eli Young Band for such a lengthy period of time, the sense of anticipation is undoubtedly sky-rocketing.
For those who will be attending their first ever Eli Young Band show, if it had to be boiled down to three words, how would Jon Jones describe the atmosphere at their performances?
“Fun, energetic, memorable”.
And, quite frankly, what more could you ask for?
For the full list of Eli Young Band's UK tour dates, see below:
Sunday, 27th August - The Long Road Festival, Leicestershire
Monday, 28th August - Academy 3, Manchester
Tuesday, 29th August - Islington Assembly Hall, London
Wednesday, 30th August - Òran Mór, Glasgow