Arts & Entertainment, The Muse

No pans for Potter

There are few people in the world who can control the emotion of a crowd ‘-‘- from body-shaking elation to almost tearful captivation and back again ‘-‘- all in two hours. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals did just that on Thursday night to a crowd of nearly 1,000 in downtown Boston’s Wilbur Theater.
The Vermont-based quartet has exploded onto the music scene in the past few years, touring almost nonstop since being featured at BU Central in the spring of 2006. Their second album This Is Somewhere was released to critical acclaim in August 2007.
And if their performance on Thursday was any indication, the band shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Kicking off the set with Potter’s slow organ intro of ‘Ragged Company,’ the band seemed to take a minute to really open up. But once they kicked into the more upbeat rocker ‘Mastermind’ and the cool, sultry ‘Treat Me Right,’ they seemed to have found the combination of undeniable energy and great songwriting that sets them apart.
‘Stop the Bus’ saw guitarist Scott Tournet really begin to stretch out with a soaring solo that displayed not only his own abilities, but also the phenomenal understanding that the band has with each other ‘-‘- each member knowing how to get the best out of the others.
Drummer Mathew Burr, sporting a cowboy hat and a moustache, which rivaled any facial hair Tom Selleck could offer, seemed to be having the best time out of anyone in the building, and bassist Bryan Dondero was happily settling back into the groove.
But it is Grace Potter herself who was truly the star of the show. Switching back and forth between playing the organ and the guitar, her stunning vocals and ability to control the crowd were breathtaking.
These talents were particularly evident on the back-to-back ballads ‘Pain In My Heart,’ an Erma Thomas song, and Nocturnals original ‘Apologies.’ On these two, Potter’s mournful organ and sorrowful lyrics captivated the entire building ‘-‘- at times the audience was so silent that the shutter of a camera could be heard from across the theater.
Many critics say that Potter’s natural star power is what makes this band so appealing, but it was also the Nocturnals’ obvious passion and exceptional songwriting that caused business suits and dreadlocks alike to sing along to every word.
The end of the band’s set saw The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’ morph seamlessly into a new 11-minute original ‘Over Again’ that again showcased the band’s phenomenal musicianship.
Coming out for an encore, Potter stepped up to the microphone and delivered a stirring rendition of ‘Nothing But The Water,’ a song that begins as a vocal testimonial, swirls into funk, and then evolves into a whirlwind of percussion with all four members of the band picking up sticks and banging away at Burr’s drum set.
After paying homage to ‘a great local band’ by playing a cover of Aerosmith’s ‘Sweet Emotion,’ the band came out again for one last song in what Potter said was ‘one of the rare times we’ve ever done a second encore’ and left the crowd breathless for more as people spilled onto the streets after the show.

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  1. Cool photo… Sounds like a wild time! Makes me want to check them out for next time

  2. Great article! This is what Grace Potter is all about…she’s hot.