WILMINGTON – Band of Horses debuted in Wilmington last Wednesday night – apparently even surprising the group.

“Why have we waited so long to come here? Asked frontman Ben Bridwell as Band of Horses (BOH) roared through a set of 15 or more songs.

It’s been 12 years since BOH played near Southeastern North Carolina. They toured through House of Blues in Myrtle Beach in 2009. This local audience was eagerly awaiting and open arms, and Bridwell, Ryan Monroe, Creighton Barrett, Matt Gentling and Ian MacDougall delivered, all equally often cheering the crowd in synchronicity to the applause of the fans.

The atmosphere was playful, energetic, relaxing.

After three days of intense rain and flooding, the skies cleared in perfect timing at 7 p.m. when the Charleston, SC-based band took over the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater. BOH has performed on numerous tracks on five versions. Bridwell noted that a sixth album is in the works, which should be released in the coming year. He even teased audiences with their latest track, “Myrtle Beach”.

The tracks for 2007’s “Cease to Begin” were in heavy rotation, from dreamy “No One’s Gonna Love You” to high-energy rock “The Great Salt Lake”. Bridwell delivered a sweaty, hard-hitting tambourine performance in “The General Specific” that pissed off the crowd and rocked them softly with longing for vocals at the opening of “Is There a Ghost.”

Bridwell took the house down with a surprise comeback to ’90s country in Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon”. It was quite a vibe, with a slide guitar, a moody organ and a sweet melancholy that pierced every word of Bridwell: “There is always room here for the loners”.

The frontman interacted a lot throughout the night, thanking the fans and his band, sharing stories of how they met, with lots of laughs; it was clear that they were happy to be back on stage. The leader’s love bombarded audiences to such a real degree that if he moved the same way on all fans, Wilmington might feel cheated.

Here are some scenes from the show, captured by Tom Dorgan of MoonFrog Media. Click to access the gallery or scroll down.

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