Grace Potter and the Nocturnals 2008-1-17 WorkPlay Theater Birmingham, AL (download)
I love "old souls". Possessing the qualities of an old soul, in my estimation, has very little to do with the religious connotations that are sometimes applied. I think it's really a matter of exhibiting a wisdom and maturity beyond your years. I mention this only because I've been sitting here for a half an hour and more than half of a strong cocktail trying to put into words why Grace Potter appeals to me so much musically, and I think her old soul is exactly what it is.
Bear with me here...
Grace brings to music a voice and songwriting ability that will have you constantly questioning her age (she's 24). It's kind of what I'd imagine Janis Joplin would sound like were she alive today, and I mean that in all of the best ways possible. In no way to I want to demean her band because they are rock solid, but Grace is truly a force even when it's just her and a tambourine, as evidenced in the first few minutes of this video:
I first saw Grace and the Nocturnals at the Bonnaroo Festival in 2006. The quality of their performance was such an pleasant surprise that what started as a quick wander past "This Tent" (those who have Bonnaroo'ed will know exactly what this is, for the uninitiated the 5 main performance areas are Which Stage, What Stage, This Tent, That Tent, and The Other Tent) turned into sticking around for the rest of the set. I'll be the first to admit that she's a looker and that didn't hurt in capturing my attention initially, but a pretty face doesn't pull my focus from good music for long. I stuck around because this band sounded good, really good, and her pipes and lyrics could've kept me there all day if she'd just kept singing.
(I took this shot of the day's offerings right before she went on. I used these pictures throughout the day to remember who was on each stage so I could plan my wanderings...)
This show is definitely a keeper amongst the GP&N live performances. Everything is just "on": The band is great, Grace is...well, Grace, and the stories and banter throughout are very entertaining. Some favorites for me are "Stop the Bus", the extended "Nothing But the Water", and her version of an old-timey favorite of mine shines in "Angel Band". Her cover of Steve Miller Band's "Jet Airliner" is also pretty damn good. Here's the full setlist:
Ain't No Time, Treat Me Right, Stop The Bus, Here's To The Meantime, Belladonna, Joey, Falling or Flying, Pain, Ah Mary, Mastermind, Apologies, Sinking Man >Delta, If I Was From Paris, Nothing But the Water >Drums >Nothing But The Water >Crowd, Angel Band >Big White Gate, Jet Airliner
Sound Quality is an A, I can clearly hear the acoustic quirks of a venue I've never even been to. Taping credits go to Jeff Hatcher, muchas gracias Jeff! Photo credits go to the band's website and to yours truly. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have a recent release, This is Somewhere, which I recommend wholeheartedly.