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Concert Review: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the House of Blues

Grace Potter at the House of Blues.
Grace Potter at the House of Blues. Photo by Mallory Finley

This was a band supposedly jet-lagged.

Six months after  Grace Potter and the Nocturnals last played the House of Blues, the band returned to the venue just off a tour overseas and ripped through a two-hour set filled with soaring vocals and guitar-heavy highs. Despite comments about her jet lag, Grace sang and danced up a storm – moving easily from the center stage mike, with guitar or without, to her Hammond B3 – never missing a step, a lyric, a breath. She’s Tina Turner for a new generation.

And she’s finally backed by a band that can keep up with her. In the six months since I saw them last, the new Nocturnals – guitarists Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco, bassist Catherine Popper and drummer Matt Burr – have melded into a cohesive, dynamic group, adding power and finesse to new songs off the upcoming self-titled album as well as the fan favorites.

The group has transformed itself. The once neo-hippie jam band has grown up, dressed up and given itself a harder-rocking sheen. They can still jam, and do it well, but there is a little more pop attitude thrown into the mix. In my review of the band from November (HERE), I foresaw them as a female-led version of the Allman Brothers. I would now like to amend that. I think they are leaning more toward an early-’70s version of Heart. Nothing wrong with that.

Grace and Catherine Popper arrived on stage in swishy mini-dresses and heels (though for both the shoes came off somewhere around midpoint), the boys in suitcoats. They blasted through an early set of new and old songs, including band classic “Ah, Mary” and the new, reggae-ish “Goodbye Kiss.” The band showed its ability to mix song styles, as it moved from more new tunes, the jammy “Oasis” and the poppy “One Short Night,” to the blues of “2:22.” Grace was completely into it. Dancing wildly, arms over her head, jumping up and down in place. The main set’s end was something to behold as the band tore through two more new songs, “Hot Summer Night” and “Paris,” with confidence and authority. “Paris” featured some screaming guitar from Scott Tournet. And “Nothing But the Water” went from Grace singing alone to rip-roaring band accompaniment back to just Grace. She knows how to work an audience.

The encores were great as well. Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” seemed to be meant for them to cover. It was followed by another fan favorite, “Stop the Bus,” and a super new tune, “Medicine,” which is sure to be a showstopper for a long time.

This is a band on its way up. How far and which direction are the only questions.

The show is available for download HERE

THE SETLIST Only Love Sweet Hands Goodbye Kiss Ah, Mary Mastermind Oasis Money One Short Night 2:22 Apologies Tiny Light Big White Gate Falling or Flying Here’s to the Meantime Hot Summer Night Paris Nothing But the Water I & II —— White Rabbit Stop the Bus Medicine

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