TVD Live: Grace Potter at the 9:30 Club, 1/21

REVIEW: NATHAN PAYNE | Following the release of her new album Midnight, Grace Potter fans have been a bit apprehensive of her separation from the Nocturnals. The new album is a departure from her conventional style of suggestively mischievous rock and roll. Midnight brings an electronic element to Grace Potter’s sound, featuring waves of ’80s synthesizer and nods to a more “pop” style of music. The collection is consistent with her slow, sure-footed exodus from southern-style rock, pushing the boundaries of her diverse repertoire.

As a longtime Grace Potter fan, I was relatively disappointed with Midnight. The bouncy, almost bubbly nature of the album lacked the familiar edge of what I had come to expect. Hints of her old sound still remained, but the full on grittiness of her notorious Flying-V guitar sound was lacking. That being said, I’ll be the first to admit I made the mistake of approaching the Midnight Tour with a certain amount of residual disappointment. Little did I know, I was about to embark on a rhythmic journey of light and sound that would make me thankful to still have a face that hadn’t been melted off by wildly amazing rock and roll.

After filing into a sold-out 9:30 Club, the crowd was primed. It wasn’t long before a flash of light and a blast of feedback vaulted the entire room into orbit. Energy was instant as she played “Hot to the Touch” followed by “Ah Mary.” I immediately realized I had underestimated Grace. The edge was there, it appeared in all of her music, and it was better than ever. New and old sounds had successfully merged in front of my eyes. Fresh band members and instrumental elements had evolved her music into something so much more—and by the time I had my revelation, we were all somewhere beyond the Milky Way.

Half way through the evening, Grace kicked it into cruise control and informed the crowd it would be a three-phase show. Phase one had ended, and phase two would be characterized by the debut of a black leotard hidden underneath her bright green sequin dress. Soon after her transformation, she reminded the crowd of another rock and roll star who was “fond of leotards” as well, and proceeded to cover David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” with a vocal elegance only she could produce.

Each and every song was accompanied by an equally impressive light show which captured the essence and tone of each and every song. There were intense flashes for moments of high energy and lazy beams for moments of low and slow. The most impressive display of the evening was achieved during the climax of the song “Stars.” Grace held her vocal sustain while being accompanied by an army of brilliant white beams aligned on a disco ball above the stage. A hurricane of light exploded into the room surrounding everyone in a slow turning galaxy of stars.

Soon phase three was upon the crowd, marked by a hard rock rendition of “Nothing but the Water (I)” and leading up to the fan favorite “Paris,” including band member solos and introductions. The static in the room began to subside as the realization our galactic journey was coming to an end. The band members embraced on stage and all held up their index fingers asking if the crowd wanted one more song. With that the room erupted as Grace led her band into a sultry, haunting cover of “Gimme Shelter,” a poignant reminder of the historic winter storm that awaited everyone after the show.

The Midnight Tour at the 9:30 club was an experience I will always remember. The show was amazing, a truly one of a kind experience. My appreciation for one of my favorite artists’ grew to a level I had not anticipated. What I had originally viewed as a potentially negative chapter in the Grace Potter story turned out to be something that has enriched my perspective on her depth and complexity as a singer/songwriter. It was without a doubt the most stellar performance I have ever seen.

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