Concert Review: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals in Los Angeles
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals has packed a lot of evolution into their decade as a band, and Friday (11/2) at the Wiltern displayed a band still on the move sonically.
Prior to the polish of the band's current sound, they built their reputation as an endlessly-touring ensemble built to some extent around the jam, folk, blues and soul territory they traversed on stage.
Their two most-recent albums, 2010's "Grace Potter and the Nocturnals" and this year's "The Lion The Beast The Beat" have pulled the band toward more radio-friendly material, and along the way, Potter's hair got lighter and her skirts got shorter and the new direction turned them into headliners at larger venues.
Similar paces of change have made some bands completely unrecognizable to their fan base, but on Saturday, it took about three songs to hit the familiar, introduce the latest and lay out that rich gumbo of tone and soul that first began turning heads toward the band ten years ago.
Which is not to say the new songs pale or were in any way disposed of--rather, the band crafted a strong album in "Lion" and the six songs woven into the set worked quite well, with the title track opening the show as dramatically as one might imagine listening to the studio track play out, "Never Go Back" igniting a dance vibe through the standing GA crowd and "Parachute Heart" retaining a lot of the melodic punch of the studio track.
Potter's voice is really the sonic hub of the band's work, particularly as they reshape their sound album to album. Soulful, expressive and powerful, she can front a blues rave-up as capably as a teary ballad or a grinding rocker.
Potter and band shone brightly on the Band-esque "Big White Gate" and a riveting "Gimme Shelter" that Potter dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Sandy (Potter's show took place the same night as an all-star telethon raising money for recovery efforts).
An appropriately heavy "Black Hole Sun" and the hits from the prior album, "Medicine" and "Paris Paris (Ooh La La)" helped round out the latter half of the show.
Potter's foray into a touch of country via last year's "You and Tequila" single with Kenny Chesney finds him returning the favor on a bonus track on "Lion," on the song "Stars," a big-chorus ballad that works very well with Potter's voice. A non-Chesney version of the track appears on the standard album and Potter opened the show's encore with the song, performed initially alone at the piano, spotlighting a real showcase of a vocal performance.
The Lion The Beast The Beat
Nothing But The Water II
Big White Gate
Never Go Back
One Short Night
Falling Or Flying (Grace and Scott acoustic)
One Heart Missing
Stop The Bus
Nothing But The Water I (Grace on slide)
Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones cover)
Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
Paris (Ooh La La)