Grace Potter slithers gracefully out of the shadows onto the stage and into the light with her arms outstretched as she appears in front of us as some sort of Rock n Roll Goddess. Her band The Nocturnals take position around her. She’s flashing that iconic grin of hers and the opening riff of “Hot to the Touch” begins with the lyrics, “Forgive me if I’m not myself tonight…”
But she was totally herself … In the way that makes you question your sexuality. Gay? She’ll turn you straight. Straight? She’ll turn you gay. And for all she cares, life is about love and love who you want. And Gracie loves ALL OF US that night for 18 songs.
She’s now greeting us as we’re admiring her inside this House of Blues. She says, “I’m gonna take you to the ‘House of Blues’” and the groovy tune “Never Go Back” starts and she’s dancing all over the stage. She makes jokes about how many parents may have shown up for a rock and roll show on a Sunday night and left their kids at home instead of going to Disney. But, wouldn’t you? Disney is always here, Grace Potter isn’t. Before “Ah Mary” kicks off she says, “Let’s go to church!” When the solo hits I think to myself, “Here’s a religion I can get on board with and I’ll worship at the Rock Altar in the House of Blues every Sunday if you give me sweet bluesy goodness like this.”
“Oh Mary, Mary, Mary. America.”
I notice her B3 is center stage and I wonder when she’s going to give us what she’s got with that, and just like that, the next song she does. She replaces her Flying V for an acoustic and swings it across her back to play some chords on “Empty Heart” which just brings me back to being a kid and listening to my dad wail on his Hammond B3. Thanks, Dad, that’s obviously why I am here now!
They play the songs “Your Girl,” “Runaway,” “Apologies,” and “Low” and Grace is crazy energetic– jumping around, swinging her hair and laying on the stage gyrating before going into a backbend and other yogi-like positions. She laughs at herself and claims she’s practicing some of her old gymnastics moves. You go girl.
Halfway through the set becomes my favorite part of the night. A carnival sounding tune begins and the band starts singing, “Na na na na na na na na na na.” All at once it’s fun, sexy, and I realize Grace reminds me of Sandy from Grease if Sandy took those spandex pants on the road with a rock and roll band after that school carnival ended. The song morphs into Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love” and she’s on the edge of the stage. The lights go dark and there are these red lights flashing so fast it turns her into this unreal looking hologram.
“Your mind is so full of red.” It was as if Potter turned into Slick and we were watching the past. She mentions that Orlando is the #1 matchmaking city in the country and “Somebody to Love” transforms into The Doors “Hello, I Love You.” She advises us to “Go up to that stranger and say, ‘Hellooooooo, I love youuuuu.'” If that doesn’t suit us, or if that’s too bold, she says wait to get the timing right and go up to someone and say, “Are you lonely? I am the loneliest soul.” She belts the lyrics to the last chorus and they finish the song, but not until she murders a solo on her B3.
Grace shares a funny story about how we think we wanna look cool like these people in coffee shops wearing sunglasses on a Sunday, but really they’re just hungover and trying to make it work. She said they’re really just listening to “Sunday Music” and trying to make it through the day. She asks if we’re ready for some more Sunday music and if we will pray with her for one more Sunday song. The tune is “Nothing but the Water,” and it is just Grace and one (of her two) drummers.
According to her, Sunday service was officially over and she was ready to keep rocking our faces off. They play “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones and she nails the vocal.
They finish the set with “The Lion, The Beast, The Beat” and leave the stage. I’m left staring at this hanging backdrop full of stars, anticipating hearing “Stars” during their encore. She comes out alone on the stage, washed in purple light, and what sounds like “Stars” becomes the melody for “When Doves Cry” by Prince. She plays only the first verse and chorus, and that is the end of her Prince tribute. It was perfect. She didn’t need to say anything.
After “Stars” they play “Divide” and go straight into this percussion breakdown/solo where everyone in the band has neon colored drumsticks, picking something to pound around both drum kits. Grace takes her position in front of the kick drum and as she’s playing it from the outside it begins changing colors with the beat. The band are all wearing purple or space-themed shirts that show planets, stars, and galaxies.
They end the night with “Paris (Ooh La La).” As Grace Potter and The Nocturnals are taking their bow with the quilted curtains are closing on them, I see her mouthing the words, “Thank you. Unforgettable.”
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Grace Potter Live Review by Jenn Ross.
Concert Photos by Matthew Wright.
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