Let me start off this review by saying I MET GRACE POTTER!!!! Ok, I’ll get to that later. I have been a fan of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals for a few years, 2009 I think. While looking for something else I stumbled across an in-studio session they did at Shore 104 in Vancouver. Like every other red blooded male I of course noticed first that Grace is drop-dead gorgeous. Then I heard her sing. Her voice is very reminiscent of Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane) or Janis Joplin. It has a very powerful 70’s rock sound. Besides Grace’s considerable talent as a singer, songwriter and performer what made me love this band is that they are one of the few bands out there still making honest, sincere rock and roll. Their sound has evolved over four albums but at is core is still blues influenced, 70’s flavoured rock. (I reviewed their latest album, The Lion The Beast The Beat back in December of 2012)
So after years of being a fan I finally got to see these talented Vermont rockers in Toronto last weekend at the Danforth Music Hall. First off, what a cool venue. It is an old 1920 theatre that was converted to a live music venue some years ago. Unfortunately I was late in getting tickets and was relegated to the balcony. That’s okay because I got to sit as the floor was general admission for this show and I’m to old/lazy to stand at shows if I can help it. I have to say though, the balcony seats were fantastic! Great view, great sound.
The opening act was a band from Austin Texas called Saints of Valory. They have an enjoyable early U2 kind of sound which I really dug. They were a great opening act. I bought their self-titled EP and am looking forward to the upcoming album.
GPN took the stage at 9pm and I pretty much knew what to expect as I have a large collection of GPN concert recordings. Every recording I’ve heard of them playing live is a balls to the wall rock and roll show. I just didn’t expect them to be as good as they were. The records simply do not do them justice. Without a doubt they absolutely blew me away. The show had a nice build to it. They began with “Medicine” and “Stop The Bus” and gradually gained energy over the next two hours playing songs from all four of their studio albums (I wished they had done their “White Rabbit” cover). They gained volume too. I’ve been to a lot of shows and this was by far the loudest. After the one hour mark I actually had to make impromptu ear plugs from a kleenex in my pocket (it was unused, no boogers).
About halfway through the show after playing “One Short Night” Grace handed her acoustic guitar to bass player Michael Libermento as the rest of the band including drummer Matt Burr joined her center stage to perform “Mystery Train” It was very cool but kuddos to Michael for playing Grace’s guitar. He’s a lefty, she’s not. That means he had to play it upside down. It was a fun number as you can see in the video below.
They closed the set with “Nothing But The Water I & II” and “Paris (Ooh La La)” which was no surprise. They play those songs at every show though not always at that point of the show. Regardles, “NBTW” starts with Grace on stage alone with her Gibson Flying V. I just about passed out right there! This song has become an anthem for this band. As the moved into part II of the song Grace was rejoined by the band and the proceeded to blow the roof of the house!
When the band came back for the encore they began with their rendition of Neil Young’s “Like A Huricane”. I expected some Neil Young as earlier in the day Grace posted on Twitter that they would do some Neil because it was almost compulsory when in Canada. It is not the song I would have expected but I’m sure glad it is the one they chose.
The show closed with another GPN anthem, “The Lion The Beast The Beat”. While I am not fond of that album, the title track is one of my favorite tunes. And what a hell of a way to end the show. Here’s video of the second part of the song.
Now to the exciting part of the evening…I MET GRACE POTTER!! I’ve met a lot of musicians. It’s kind of a thing I do. I won’t say how I did it as I don’t want to give away my secrets. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a big GPN fan and I’ve said many times that Grace is the sexiest woman in rock and is a pretty big deal, at least in the US. So for me this was a monumental event. She was very nice to talk to, quote gracious you could say (ha ha…see what I did there?). She happily obliged a photo with me. My camera died just before so the crappy photo was from my Blackberry and was taken by her tour manager. Before I met Grace I got to talked to Scott Tournet for a few minutes. He’s one of my favorite guitar players and actually we had a discussion about the Heritage Guitars t-shirt I was wearing. I did not get a chance to meet the rest of the band because when the opportunity arose I was having my picture taken with Grace…I had my priorities straight.
All in all, one of the best concerts I have ever been too. There a few pictures below. Go see Grace Potter & The Nocturnals if you can.