Tag Archives: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Matt’s Midweek Music Post: My Rough Week

Let me tell you what a rough week I had last week:

Sunday: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals show at The Ryman Auditorium.
Tuesday: Journey and Foreigner show at Bridgestone Arena.
Saturday: Colbie Caillat and Andy Grammer show at Tin Roof. And that was after a full day at Musicians Corner in Centennial Park.

Tough, right?

Aside from this great run of concerts however, I did have a lot on my plate last week. So these shows were a nice break from sitting in front of a computer. This week was actually a reaffirmation as to why live music is so fantastic.

Grace Potter on Sunday was one of the best shows I‘ve ever been to. For more, check out the write up I did on that.


Journey and Foreigner was a show I had not intended on going to; in fact, I forgot they were even in town. This was one of those spur-of-the-moment nights that I love. When I talk about living in the moment, spontaneity is a huge aspect of that. My buddy called me up at 5:30 (the show was at 7:00) and said, “Hey, you wanna go see Journey tonight?”

“Umm… yep!”

An hour later we were standing in front of Bridgestone arena with fingers up in the air trying to scalp tickets. We didn’t want to spend more than $10 a ticket (the cheapest they were going for was at least $60). Yeah, you get several perturbed looks and swear words muttered in your direction when you low-ball the crap out of people like that, but patience pays off. We don’t mess with the scalpers; we go straight to the source: patrons with extra tickets who just want them taken off their hands.

Half an hour later, we had three tickets for $10… total. That’s after we sold a couple back to the real scalpers for profit. As I said, patience.

I realized this was my first true classic Rock N’ Roll concert. I wasn’t dressed in black or inebriated in any way, but it still lived up to the reputation.

Journey and Foreigner - The Eclipse Tour

Foreigner still has it. Newest front man Kelly Hansen was incredible, with amazing vocals and even more amazing stamina. The lights and video screens were going crazy while the guitars shredded and Hansen ran around the stage like a wild man. I forgot how many Foreigner songs I knew, and every one of them was a huge crowd pleaser. We jammed out to Hot Blooded, Cold as Ice, Feels Like the First Time, Urgent, Waiting For A Girl Like You, I Want To Know What Love Is, Head Games, and of course Jukebox Hero.

Then on came Journey kicking it off with Separate Ways. (Quick aside, if you have never watched the Separate Ways video, it is the single most hilarious thing ever made… but I digress.) They played several new songs, which drew minimal interest from the crowd, but classics like Any Way You Want It, Faithfully, Open Arms, Wheel in the Sky, and Lights made up for that. The encore of course included the Don’t Stop Believin’, the one song they would never get out of anywhere without playing. There’s something about the most overdone karaoke song of all time that sounds so good when Journey sings it in an arena with 20,000 people. After this, they ended the night with Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’, a great way to end the show with the “na na na’s” and everyone’s arms and lighters (or cell phone apps that look like lighters) going back and forth. At the end, Joe Don Baker of Rascal Flatts joined the band on stage to shred it with them… I have no idea why, but why not?

Colbie Caillat and Andy Grammer

First, this show was on Saturday night, so I had to shoot over to Tin Roof right after a full day at Musicians Corner. My MC days consist of being on my feet constantly, so when I got to the Colbie show I was tired. I got up close to the front, but then I was essentially trapped by the general admission crowd. So I stood.

Keep Your Head Up singer Andy Grammer opened for her. I didn’t know most of his songs, but I looked him up afterwards because he certainly knows how to entertain, and I thoroughly enjoyed his stuff. I felt out of place actually, because most people there seemed to have his album and know every damn word. He played guitar and keys, both very well. He also beat boxes, which was a pretty cool addition to the three-piece band. He covered Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning, a perfect fit for his voice. He also covered Apologize by OneRepublic complete with a beat-boxed background. Apparently after his set he shot over to Bridgestone where his friend Taylor Swift was performing. She brought him up in front of a much bigger crowd to sing Keep Your Head Up again.

Then my girl came out to Realize. I am in love with Colbie Caillat. To quote Scrubs (although Zack Braff was referring to Dido), “If my heart could write songs, they would sound like these.”

(Please note that was meant to be funny.)

She played a bunch of songs from her new album All of You, which I have only had the opportunity to listen to a few times, but at least I recognized everything. It didn’t take very long before my sore legs and feet were out of my head, and I stood there staring at the beautiful Colbie as she serenaded the crowd with her soft, mellifluous voice.

Colbie CaillatShe introduced many of her songs, sighting real life experiences and relationships as inspiration. A lot of it was too sentimental and lovey-dovey for me, and you begin to wonder just how many relationships this girl has had! Another thing that surprised me was the number of people she had on the stage. Colbie has the kind of music that would work perfectly with just a guitar, but she had six people backing her up!

She hit the big songs, including the Grammy-winning number Lucky, featuring one of her guitarists as opposed to Jason Mraz. In the middle of the show, she declared a change in the setlist so she could cover Breakeven by The Script.

The end is what I loved, when she said, “I hate encores. So rather than me walking off then you guys asking me to come back, would you be OK if I just stayed and played three songs instead of two?” That was met by a rousing response from the crowd. As someone who also thinks the encore has lost all novelty, I was thrilled. For the love people, an encore used to mean something! Now every act you see (including Grace, and Foreigner and Journey) plans an encore. That defeats the whole purpose! And for that small rebellion Colbie, we thank you.

I love concerts because of how they force us to be present. I had that opportunity time and again last week. Whether it was smiling and gawking at Grace during Ragged Company, pumping my fists to Jukebox Hero, air guitaring to Don’t Stop Believin’, or closing my eyes and swaying to Bubblyin those moments, nothing else mattered…

Except for the looming question: who is going to be my celebrity crush of the month? Grace or Colbie? Thoughts?


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Matt’s Midweek Music Post: Fall for Grace

Grace Potter an the Nocturnals

I was thoroughly prepared to do a write up of Lady Antebellum’s new album Own the Night, which hit stores yesterday. Anyone who knows me knows that Lady A can do no wrong in my eyes, and I couldn’t wait to review their new CD. Well that will have to wait until next week, because on Sunday I experienced one of the best live music experiences of my lifeGrace Potter and the Nocturnals at The Ryman Auditorium.

I know, “best live music experiences of my life” is a steep order. I have seen hundreds of live performances and dozens of awesome mainstream concerts – all of which have been great – but there was something so wonderfully different about this one, I found myself literally laughing with enjoyment throughout a large part of the show.

Now, I only became a Grace fan this year, but I immediately fell in love with their music. Normally I am a lyric-driven song fan; but with this I found myself not caring what she is saying because she sings it – and the Nocturnals play it – so well. Apparently Nashville is catching on to the band as well, because Sunday night’s show sold out so quickly they added another on Monday.

Aside from being strikingly beautiful, Grace has a very unique, soulful, almost-raspy, yet flawless voice. The Nocturnals are comprised of highly energetic and talented musicians who create a sound enviable in today’s popular music. They feature Scott Tournet on lead guitar, drummer Matt Burr, and have recently been joined by bassist Catherine Popper and rhythm guitarist Benny Yurco.

I was a fan just listening to the album, but it rocketed to a stratospheric level after seeing them live. Grace is a multi-instrumentalist, and one helluva performer. She dances around in high heels (a feat I can’t say I’ve attempted, but can only imagine the difficulty) as though she is lost in the moment and the music, and thoroughly enjoying herself – a quality that only makes the audience respond by smiling and dancing with her.

Grace Potter

Many people know my favorite part of any show is when the lights go down right beforehand. This was no different, as the acoustics in The Ryman amplified the monstrous cheer that arose from the crowd. For the opening, Grace came out by herself first, in a misty silhouetted ambiance. With nothing more than her and a guitar, she sang the first part of Nothing But the Water. When the Nocturnals came out to pick up Part II, the excitement buildup broke, and the atmosphere was electric.

Grace quickly ditched the guitar and danced her way over to her keyboard to play. Before long she had picked up a tambourine, making it three instruments in the first several minutes.

Keeping the mood upbeat, they transitioned into Only Love, showing off Grace’s power and distinguishably talented vocals. They then moved to mid-tempo with the jazzy-pop-rock That Phone, which is the ultimate clap-along song. Staying mid-tempo and with the third straight song from the newest self-titled album, they segued into Goodbye KissSlowing things down, they moved to the bluesy number Treat Me Right, followed by the popular and breathtakingly beautiful Apologies.

There was one song that I knew would be a crowd pleaser with a jam session ending, and this was next on the set list: Tiny Light. The song starts out a typical mid-tempo Grace song, but ended with a good five minutes of Grace and the band absolutely rocking out, forcing whoever was left sitting to stand up to jam along.

This was a great segue into the acoustic part of the show, featuring just Grace, Benny and Scott, all with acoustic guitars. She started with Ragged Companywhich was so emotionally beautiful I couldn’t help but be moved as I stared in awe as Grace got lost in the song.

After a couple off-color jokes (making me fall deeper in love with her), Grace stayed on the acoustic playing Big White Gate in honor of her grandmother.

The band came out and picked it up again with Sweet Hands. By the time Grace, Benny and Scott walked in front of the amps to rock out, everyone was already jumping and partying with them. Keeping everyone excited, they transitioned into Ah MaryHot Summer Night, and Stop the Busall with intense showmanship and energy.

The encore kicked off with Grace throwing of her shoes, and covering the ZZ Top classic TushSeriously, seeing her with no shoes on, jamming out on her Flying V to ZZ Top was one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen.

She then transitioned into requests taken via social media. This was a noble idea, but everyone knew these would be the songs she couldn’t leave without playing anyway. Still, she started with You and Tequila, the song that gave her clout in the country genre by teaming up with Kenny Chesney. She shared the lead with Scott, who did the song enough justice to make it incredibly enjoyable. I honestly could have called Chesney being there… but he wasn’t. A point Grace made before the song started.

And although she made the same point the following night (the night I didn’t go)… Chesney DID show up. So did Matraca Berg, who helped pen the song. Damnit!

Anyway, after asking if anyone hadn’t heard everything they wanted yet, she played the obvious new smash single: Paris (Ooh La La) Keeping with the theme of the entire night, the live version only extended the greatness of the song.

The show ended with Medicine, a song I enjoy, but wouldn’t have thought it would be a high-energy way to end a show… boy was I wrong! In the middle of the song, the entire band grabbed a drumstick or two and launched into a drum breakdown all on the same drum kit. This was so cool I started dancing like a moron, but had to stop when they really went nuts just to watch and giggle like a little schoolgirl because I was having so much fun. They ended with Grace dancing around, the lights going crazy, the guitars shredding, and the crowd in a continuous standing ovation. I just kept smiling and hugging the girl who gave me her extra ticket at the last minute.

All I can say is, this is the reason I write about music. I have never been so present and had so much fun at a live show before. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are a force to be reckoned with, and their newest self-titled album is their best yet. Understandable, as it was produced by Mark Batson, who has produced Dr. Dre, Eminem, Jay-Z and Dave Matthews Band. A random collection of artists sure, but brilliance nonetheless, and four of my personal favorites.

Grace called the new album “a stylistic epiphany,” adding, “In my mind, an album shouldn’t be self-titled unless it feels that way.”

If the album is a representation of an enlightenment of the band, their live show is nothing short of a musical renaissance. Next time Grace and the Nocturnals make an appearance in Nashville it will garner more than a two-night stint at the Ryman. I just hope I can get tickets.

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