Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
February 23, 2011
Thick in the throes of a national tour, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are gaining much attention. Tim Burton, Jay Leno, George Lopez, and VH1 are among the many media powerhouses thrusting Grace into the spotlight for the whole world to see. After witnessing their performance in a live setting, one thing is for sure: you can believe the hype. Grace Potter is the real deal. She has a pure animal magnetism that is hard to contain within four walls. With her carefree charisma and energetic charm, not only can she hang with the best artists around, she can kick their collective asses-all while in a pair of sexy heels.
The band made an entrance onto the larger of the two stages at Birmingham’s WorkPlay Theatre on a sold-out Wednesday night that was fit for Hollywood royalty. Just the fact that she and her Nocturnals, brunette bassist Catherine Popper and the boys in the band, Scott Tournet, Matt Burr, and Benny Yurco, have crossed over from the much smaller theater stage within a year’s time speaks volumes. As is par, the Nocturnals took to the stage dressed to perfection with their white suits, dark shades, and scores of bravado. But just as Grace told Honest Tune at Austin City Limits, the most beautiful thing about their show is the surprise ending-these beauties can actually play music—with that being an understatement of obscene proportions.
Under flowing swatches of sheer fabric and a glimmering chandelier, the Nocturnals got the music started for the pulsating crowd. Ms. Potter slinked onto stage, fashionably late and ready to rock. The group kicked off the jam-filled set with a hair-flinging, foot-stomping version of their 2006 song, "Joey," the tune of feminism that the boys simply cannot resist. The approving smirk on the large, overstuffed lion holding down one of the band’s amps coincided with the vibe of the audience—it was going to be a stellar night.
Grace strutted across the stage from her tambourine to her organ, to an array of guitars, including an Alabama-shaped guitar, further proving her instrumental musical ability matched that of her soaring voice. With one energy-filled power song after another, the band rocked and the audience cheered in agreement. "Only Love" brought the crowd to a swaying, pensive state. As someone screamed, "Big White Gate," from the audience, Grace took the request, boasting she wasn’t "fucking scared." Crooning the song penned for her dying grandmother, Grace emoted soulfully as the crowd joined her in her cathartic release.
The band laid down a supremely bluesy anthem with "2:22." The call and answer between Grace’s vocals and Benny’s guitar riffs stirred the staring crowd into a frenzy. The last of the guitar response flowed right into the unmistakable sounds of Jefferson Airplane’s "White Rabbit." Channeling Grace Slick—no easy feat—Madame Grace grabbed her Flying V guitar and took a trip to visit Alice in Wonderland. Grace smoldered into the microphone with baited pauses, "I see London, I see France, I see Alice’s underpants." As Ms. Potter uttered this phase that the audience had been thinking all night, the band kicked up into the highly anticipated and much appreciated "Paris," the provocative single from 2010’s self-titled release. Ooh La La-consider the audience in musical heaven.
For their heavily requested encore, Grace, sans The Nocturnals, took to the stage with an acoustic guitar and a ballad about the beauty of Alabama. With the stomping of her foot and the clapping of hands of the audience, the band joined Grace on stage with a soul bearing version of "Nothing but the Water (I)" that blended seamlessly into a particularly fiery and feisty version of "Medicine." Possibly no other lyrics have ever rung more true—she’s got the medicine that everybody wants.
Grace Potter is a musical force to be reckoned with. She rocks, she rolls, she kicks, she struts, and she sends her lyrics soaring into vocal nirvana. Along with the Nocturnals, Grace is steadily gaining much earned notoriety and she is doing it with humility-never failing to show anything but sincere appreciation for her journey that has been come by with purely honest musical integrity. Throughout it all, Grace Potter commands the stage with a strong authority and an unapologetic confidence as if to say, "This is what I do, take it or leave it." Well, Ms. Potter, we are taking it, and we are begging for more.