in powerful Oakland concert
Grace Potter's band, The Nocturnals, hit the stage at Oakland's Fox Theater on August 15, 2015, with the infectious riff for "Medicine" (from 2010’s "Grace Potter and the Nocturnals"), and then Potter pranced out onto the stage in one of her trademark sparkly dresses.
I use the term "dress" loosely here it was as usual, tantalizingly short. The lyrics describe Potter herself "She got the medicine that everybody wants."
In just that first song she whipped the audience and her band into a frenzy. By the time the song had finished and the superb lighting was subdued, the stage with its multiple guitars and keyboards looked as if littered with the debris of an explosion.
Grace Potter had arrived.
Potter is herself a multi-instrumentalist. She swaps easily between acoustic guitar, Flying-V guitar, sometimes with slide, and a B3 organ. After a few rocking selections from her albums of the last 10 years, she cleared the stage down to just her and a single guitar playing acoustically behind her on "Low Road," again from 2010’s "Grace Potter and the Nocturnals." After all the rock bluster of the first 30 minutes of her show, here Potter showed her more vulnerable, little girl side. She commands the stage either way.
With tracks going back to 2006’s "Nothing But The Water" Grace Potter and the Nocturnals moved easily between rock and gospel, and even some Black Keys-influenced drum-and-guitar-only songs.
But she surprised us all when she sat down at the piano and gave us a heartfelt take on Elton John’s "Rocket Man." Potter’s vocal range is extensive (watch out for the Grace Potter "squeal"), and she didn’t need any falsetto to hit the high notes. She closed out the main set with the title track from 2012’s "The Lion The Beast The Beat."
As she and the band walked off stage, the Fox Theater erupted. She was clearly not going to get off that lightly. Sure enough, she came back and gave us a rousing version of "Paris, Ooh La La," interspersed with the Rolling Stones’ "Not Fade Away."
Potter's latest album, "Midnight," is available now. Personally, I would recommend some of her previous albums first, as the jury is still out on this latest one. Anyway, as of Aug 18, 2015, "Midnight" was temporarily out of stock at Amazon. That doesn’t happen too often.
Potter was preceded on stage by Rayland Baxter, an "alternative country" singer-songwriter from Nashville. Baxter’s set was shall we say, "relaxing," with some nice melodies and verses, but nothing that really stood out.
Email Tony Lacy-Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org