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  • Rich Kassirer

Concert Review: Grace Potter at the House of Blues

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the House of Blues.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the House of Blues.

The word was that if you hadn’t heard Grace live, you really hadn’t heard her, and this is true. The albums do not do her justice. There is an electricity to her, and it runs right through her body from her fluttering fingertips, to her hair-waving head, right down to her high-heeled shoed feet. Whether she’s fronting the band playing slide on her flying V or from her perch at her Hammond organ, Grace Potter is in full throttle.

I always like to ask myself, “what does this band want to be”? For Grace and the Nocturnals, I think they’d like to be the female Allman Brothers. And they’ve got a pretty great start. They’ve added a second guitarist, Benny Yurco, and have a new female bass player, Catherine Popper, a strong voice to the mix which includes longtime Nocturnals lead guitarist Scott Tournet and drummer Matt Burr. They look like they are having a blast up there, smiling away while blasting through “Ah, Mary,” showing off their new dueling lead guitars on one of their new songs, and meeting together on the center stage floor for a kneeling group guitar jam during “Stop the Bus.”

They have always fit comfortably amid the jam band scene, but they are able stand out a bit from the pack, because of Grace. Not only is she a woman (and a great-looking woman!) amid the sea of guys, but her songwriting is also stronger than most in the jammy genre. She debuted six new songs, including one called “Tiny Light,” which starts slowly and builds to a rocking crescendo filled with guitar feedback. She wound up nearly two hours onstage with an encore of the Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” which fit her band perfectly. She closed the show with her a cappella-to-full blown rocker “Nothing But the Water.”

A couple of other notes: I wasn’t sure what the crowd would be like for the show. I was initially worried that the place would seem empty. But I was pleasantly surprised. I estimate the crowd at a couple thousand, filling about three-quarters of the place.

Brett Dennen was a pleasant surprise and weird sort of cat. And he’s got quite a fan base. When he was onstage, the front of the house was packed. It seemed to be less crowded when Grace came on… like all Brett’s fans either left or moved back to the bars. That was fine. It left more room for Grace’s fans — which included a large majority of college girls (unusual for a jam band) — to dance.

One more note about Brett Dennen. He’s an odd mix of performer, not really sure where to place him. He’s got a unique-sounding voice, a huge mop of hair, and has the stage presence — dancing and moving his hips that puts him somewhere between Neil Diamond and David Bowie.

All in all, a really fun show.

For more pics, click HERE.

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