Grace Potter and The Nocturnals – Concert Review

Grace Potter is not Janis Joplin. Grace Potter is not Sass Jordan.

Thursday night at The Virgin Mobile Corona Theater in Montreal, Grace Potter was Grace Potter …

Potter and her band of Nocturnals, arrived in Montreal promoting their new album; The Lion The Beast The Beat. The same – titled first track of the night, introduced a Montreal audience to the band with all three elements.

The guitars and bass – The Beast. The primal drum beat – The Beat. Grace Potter – The Lion. Each facet of the song could easily be switched among ingredients as the band and Miss Potter displayed a raw power very early. A force which quickly started to warm the Montreal audience and get the hot blood rising to the surface. The juices were flowing …

The Go-Go‘s  … esque second song,  retained the hard-driving beat  with Potter’s ever-present energy slightly outdoing her voice. Slightly.

If the audience was tired after a long week at work, halfway through the song ‘ Hot Summer ‘Night’, an awakening was starting to take place thanks to drummer Matt Burr. His hard-hitting ways ensured the audience would also become ‘Nocturnal’.

Burr is an original Nocturnal. If anyone knows about keeping people awake – it would be him.

‘Goodbye Kiss’  slowed things down.

A car should not be driven the speed of light constantly if the owner wants it to survive.  The band and Potter, natives of Vermont, seem well aware of this fact. Pacing themselves and at the same time portraying Potter’s country influences. There ‘ain’t’ too many skyscrapers in Burlington so the time Potter and all spent hanging out in the fields and maybe even barns – shines through. Along with the song ‘Apologies’, it does not take a dairy farmer to realize why Potter collaborated with Country  star Kenny Chelsea on  his song; ‘You and Tequila.’


“Low Road’ was the first ‘sing-along’ portion of the show. Scott Tournet’s acoustic combined with Potter’s girl-next-door vocals prove this band is more than a rock n roll one. Grace Potter has a hippy mentality which evokes images of Joplin. The girl who once stated that she would ‘ sing naked if she were allowed’, is at ease on stage. This fact persuades an audience to  want to put on some beads and toss their Iphones into a field.

‘Big White Gate’ and ‘Stop the Bus’ combined Country and Blues while ‘2:22’ gave a sign that somewhere, sometime – the group used a  Ouija board to send for Janis Joplin’s spirit.  Find the song online on YouTube. Don’t watch – listen to a live version. If that is not Joplin and The Big Brother Holding Company coming through the speakers – then what is?

Now the surprise …

On purpose  or not – a Canadian connection came candidly.

Neil Young‘s ‘ Cinnamon  Girl‘ started a rockin’ home stretch for The IMG_1149Nocturnals and Grace. The rock icon and  forefather of  Grunge’s chords resonated through a crowded room like a long-lost relative returning home following an evening of drinking.  Smiles were abundant for the older patrons while the young fans rocked. The Nocturnals could not have chosen a better song to prequel Potter’s eventual holding of a Canadian Flag on stage.

Canada has The Guess Who. Canada has Rush. Canada has April Wine.

Canada is … Neil Young.

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals get it!

‘Stars’, ‘The Divide’ and ‘Nothing but The Water II’ showcased Potter’s immense vocal range and guitar playing. Not only can this ‘chick’ sing – she plays a mean guitar. Raw, powerful and inspirational. Combined with ‘Benny’ Turco and Scott Tournet – the trio’s guitar work left the eighteen year old wannabe rockers in attendance ‘speechless’. All this led up to their biggest hit off the new album and the party song of the night …

Everyone in attendance at Thursday night’s  show,  woke up the following morning singing; “Ooh -la -la -la -la-la-la- la-la” …

Paris (Ooh La La) is one of those songs which come around every fifteen spins of a turntable. Maybe twenty.

Powerful chords, spiffy lyrics and an addictive chorus this side of ‘ Happy Birthday’. Potter uses the opportunity well. The shyest person in the house could be heard muttering the chorus from behind his overcoat and sunglasses. The mice nested outside in the alley, singing dancing and enjoying the crack  in the wall more than most nights. The band said their farewells following this one. The band left – leaving the audience wanting more …


A thunderous ovation later – a return to the stage to complete the celebrations of everything good in music. Even a broken guitar early on, a malfunction which Potter blamed on Beyonce – could not dampen the spirits of  what Potter referred to as ‘ the band’s favorite Canadian city’.  Habitually – every city is ‘the band’s favorite city’.  Somehow – Potter made you believe it!

‘ Nothing but the Water I’ was all Potter. A Capella performance rooted in Gospel. You know – church going kind of stuff. Potter’s range at this point? Bluesy, Country, Hymn – like … mesmerizing.

IMG_1067Jefferson Airplanes’ ‘White Rabbit’ appeared from its ‘sixties’ hole via the band. A cover supposed to be covered by Potter. It is easy for a female singer to be linked eternally with Grace Slick.  Especially when the pair share the same first name. Potter not only does the song justice, she sings with such profound emotion – eyes closed, Grace Slick appears times two.

‘Medicine’ closed the show. A Sass Jordan performance. An upbeat tune caged. At this point – The Lion The Beast The Beat had nothing left to prove. This concert had Potter playing the Hammond B-3 organ, Potter playing the guitar, Potter singing from the depths of her soul and Potter dancing around like the world was going to end tomorrow.  No wonder. She had to keep up with her band!

Grace Potter is sometimes Janis Joplin. Grace Potter is sometimes Sass Jordan. Most of the time – she is Grace Potter.

Remember that … !


All photos courtesy of Richard Tremblay

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