Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Show Review: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at The Greek Theatre, 5/11/08

Dr. Pauly had picked up tickets for us to the Phil Lesh & Friends show several months ago when he'd figured out that he'd be arriving in California that weekend for his nearly four-month west coast sojurn. As a bonus, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals were opening for Phil. I really dig her album This is Somewhere and have caught her a couple of times at various festivals.

Only 24 years old, Potter sings lead vocals in a thick, blues-influenced timbre that might lead you to believe she was raised on a windblown ranch or deep in the Mississippi Delta, but in fact she and her bandmates hail from Phish country-- the rolling hills of Vermont. She also sits on keys, playing piano and a Hammond B3 and picks up an electric guitar on certain songs. Rounding out the band are Bryan Dondero on bass, Matt Burr on drums and guitarist Scott Tournet. They've spent the majority of the last two years on the road, playing afternoons at large-scale music festivals and smaller club dates on their own. This summer, in addition to their festival schedule, they've started opening for bigger artists like Phil & Friends and the Black Crowes.

"We've never been here before" said Grace Potter, as she took the stage. "This is a beautiful space." Indeed the Greek is one of my favorite places to see live music-- anywhere. The 5,500 seat amphitheater is nestled in the hills of Griffith Park and there is hardly a bad seat in the house.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals 5.11.08 Los Angeles, CA

Ain't No Time, Treat Me Right, Stop the Bus, Nothing But the Water> Drums Jam > Nothing But the Water, Apologies>Mastermind, The Big White Gate

Grace opened with a bouncy Ain't No Time and went straight into Treat Me Right. Next was a heavy, jammy treatment of Stop the Bus, where Grace picked up her guitar to solo with Tournet. Nothing but the Water started with an a capella verse-- just Grace singing gospel-tinged blues and slamming a tambourine, before the rest of the band kicked in. They broke for an all-hands-on deck drum jam before segueing back into the final verse. Things then shifted downtempo for Apologies, one of my more recent "favorite songs to sing in my car while sitting L.A. traffic." Mastermind and The Big White Gate, both of her latest album, finished out the set.

I'm in love with Grace's voice and it's in her live performances that you really get to experience it's full range. She's not afraid to take risks, riff off the melody, or fearlessly reach for that wailing high note. I'll definitely be looking forward to seeing her again at the Outside Lands Festival later this summer.

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