Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Radio City Music Hall / New York, NY

Photo By Laura Carbone

 

They say, “She who leaves a trail of glitter behind is never forgotten,” but what happens when she also plays slide guitar like a boss?

Grace Potter stands in her own hemisphere. A glittery array of spectacle and sound, she pranced around stage at the heralded Radio City Music Hall with the sort of confidence that, in the past, has enabled her to share stages with the high rollers (the Rolling Stones, Warren Haynes). This particular New York performance, however, had her in disbelief: “It’s still kind of sinking in that we’re here.”

Though some climb similar trajectories, others often become blinded by the glitz and glam of fame, unable to see why they fell in love with their craft in the first place. Not this one. Her music is true because it comes from a genuine place, surrounded by genuine people. Her band, the Nocturnals, perfectly develop a bevy of roots, rock and blues that only further remind us of the healing properties music possesses. Be it the tribal throb of percussion or the heavenly, Judy Collins-esque backup vocals by keyboardist Eliza Hardy Jones (who’s also toured with Strand of Oaks), the band put on one hell of a show.

At one point, Potter and husband Matt Burr, on drums, created a cosmic energy so intense, you had to rub your eyes to make sure it was just the two of them on stage. In sync since college where they first met, the couple perfectly complimented each other like all great rock ‘n’ roll lovers do.

Later, Potter intrepidly traversed to terrains of R&B with guitarist Benny Yurco playing cool, sexy progressions that lulled the crowd and had them hanging on to every chord. Here was another example of her talent, though she admitted doubts and hesitation. “Every now and then, I try to write a soul number, but then I remember I’m white,” she said. “But I try anyway.” Having worn off the grooves of countless Otis Redding records, it was clear Potter picked up a thing or two, demonstrating a wide range of vocals that fared well with the crowd.

After two hours, Potter and the Nocturnals returned under the spotlight for an encore, accompanied by opening band Trampled By Turtles whose seven-minute rendition of “Helpless” received a standing ovation well before the song’s final note. Somewhere in the world, Neil Young’s ears were buzzing, but the hundreds of us at Radio City Music Hall had hearts aflame.

—Melissa Caruso

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