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New Clothes, New Lineup, Bigger Sound

November 23rd, 2009

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – Terminal 5 – November 20, 2009

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Terminal 5 - November 20, 2009
She stood in the middle of the stage—in a very short sequined dress—singing the first song of the night, “Some Kind of Ride.” This was notable, because while Grace Potter has a terrific voice, she’s not usually one to stand behind the microphone without an instument and just look pretty, which is exactly what she was doing. While Potter has shed her girl-next-door T-shirt-and-jeans getup for a more glamorous look, that powerful, raspy, blues-drenched voice remains her calling card. But nevertheless, that voice is more at home when its owner is behind her Gibson Flying V guitar or Hammond B-3 organ, which, for the most part, is where she spent the rest of the show.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have a relatively new lineup. They’ve gone from a four-piece to a five-piece, replacing bassist Brian Dondero with Catherine Popper, also in a very short sequined dress, and adding second guitarist Benny Yurco, thereby gaining a fuller sound in the process. On Friday night at Terminal 5, co-headlining with Brett Dennen, the newest version of G. Pot and the Noc Nocs played some new stuff (“We have some new songs. Would you like to hear a couple?”) and tore through material from their first two albums, delighting the crowd with spirited takes on “Ah Mary” and “Big White Gate” while also playing quieter ones, like “Apologies.” Later on, the ladies in the audience eagerly sang the “Ooh la la” part of “If I Was from Paris.” Although they only played a 75-minute set, it was packed with head-nodding, hair-waving electricity as the band jammed with reckless abandon.

After a very brief encore break, they returned for a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” with Potter doing kind justice to Grace Slick’s lyrics. The finale, “Nothing but the Water I,” began with Potter, at center stage, singing a cappella while the crowd clapped and stomped along. As she slid behind the organ, the rest of the band joined her in a brief ’70s-disco-Dead kind of intro to “Nothing but the Water II” before reaching a musical climax. Then they all dropped their instruments and gathered at center stage. Plenty in the audience jumped up and down, as Potter did, and clapped and cheered as they exited. —R. Zizmor

Photos courtesy of Greg Notch | photography.notch.org/music