On tour now with Brett Dennen, Grace Potter and her new band, the Nocturnals, haven’t stopped rocking out since they touched the road. Having kicked off mid-November in Nashville, Potter and Dennen have been criss-crossing the country for the last month, performing a recent show at the 9:30 Club that tore up the place.
This is the third or fourth year in a row that Potter played an early winter show at the famed U Street venue, though it’s the first time her band wasn’t the sole headliner. Despite an early start, the floor was already packed. One thing to notice about all of Potter’s shows is that the setlists are all relatively similar – “Nothing But the Water”, “Sweet Hands”, “Ah Mary”, and “Here’s to the Meantime” are all staples at this point. However, after a song or two, Potter informed the audience that the band is currently working on an album, to which a part of the show’s material culled from.
The new songs have a more alt-country feel to them than any of her previous material, which is really just a part of the band’s evolution. Potter is known for rocking out the audience; she’s performed with some of jam-rock’s heavyweights, and she always holds her own. Until this tour, featuring Cat Porter as the replacement for former bassist Bryan Dondero, Potter was always the only woman on stage — and she met the requirements of that role well. It’s not that Potter doesn’t bring it the way she used to; in fact, having another woman on stage that she can duel with only adds to the bands appeal. This show, however, seemed a little bit more “kumbaya” than any other shows in recent memory. The country songs don’t have the same effect on the audience. She’s lost her edge on these songs; the grate in her voice that turns the audience on, still present in classics like “Treat Me Right” and “If I Was From Paris”, is lacking on the new material.
Overall though, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals still electrify the audience. Arguably one of the most talented and shockingly gorgeous women in rock today, it’s impossible not to be drawn into her live show. One of the highlights is the drum jam; at the end of “Nothing But the Water”, the band crowds around drummer Matthew Burr’s kit, everyone finds a surface, and the band members rock out. All together. On one instrument. It’s magical, really. Things like this, little quirks where the band has fun with each other and the audience gets to pretend that the band is having fun with them too, make Potter’s shows so enjoyable.
Potter’s tour is nowhere near complete, though. With four New Year’s shows scheduled in Burlington, the band’s hometown, there’s still much to look forward to. The first two of those shows, on December 27 and 28th, are with Alberta Cross, possibly the only woman in the world reckoning with Potter over the “Most Talented Woman Ever” award, an accolade that doesn’t exist (yet) but really should. After those shows, Potter’s schedule isn’t calming down, as you’ll find her in Jamaica with Gov’t Mule in January, bringing her great sound overseas.
Grace Potter/Nocturnals 2009/2010 Tour Dates
12/26 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
12/27 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground +
12/28 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground +
12/31 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
01/08 – Woodstock, NY @ Bearsville Theatre
01/09 – Woodstock, NY @ Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble
01/15 – Negril, Jamaica @ Grand Lido Negril Resort
03/11 – North Adams, MA @ Mass MoCA
03/13 – Carrabassett Valley, ME @ Sugarloaf Ski Resort