Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: Memphis, TN Gig Review

The Roar Tour 2012 promotes the new album by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals released in June. The band will be featured on the next cover of Relix magazine.

Grace Potter was recently in the South opening up for the Flaming Lips in Oxford, MS during August for the Lips’ World Record attempt. This time she brought Rayland Baxter. Hailing from the Nashville area, this singer-songwriter opened up for The Civil Wars in 2011 and is now touring with Grace Potter, promoting his recent release in August (feathers & fishHooks). He’s performed at many notable venues and festivals including this past year’s SXSW. He is the son of producer Bucky Baxter (Bob Dylan). Signed to ATO records, this mustached, folky singer soothed the New Daisy audience. Memphis seemed to really take a liking to him. While sitting, Baxter and his trio performed a solid set that warmed the crowd up for what was next to come. Many in the crowd were anticipating his performance. The band exceeded every expectation.

After Baxter, the crew set the stage for the main event, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. A crew member lit candles and sat two cups of tea on her piano. The Nocturnals walked out onto a dark stage as Grace followed. The band opened with the title track of her new album, “The Lion The Beast The Beat.” Together, bassist Mike Libramento and Matthew Burr pounded the drums while Grace took to her piano. The tone of the song shifted after the first verse and Grace grabbed her guitar and began jamming out with Benjamin Yurco and Scott Tournet. The band’s head banging in conjunction with Grace’s squeals between verses was exactly what Memphis needed in order to get pumped up.

Ending “The Lion The Beast The Beat” and going into “Nothing But the Water (II),” Grace greeted Memphis while hopping across the floor of the stage. She then strutted her way back to her piano while her lively, upbeat organ was played with Yurco and Tournet’s back and forth funky guitar riffs.

Grace Potter

During “Nothing but the Water (II)” Grace greeted the audience once more saying, “I’d like to take a minute now and just make sure we’re all acquainted with each other. Do you know what you’re here doing tonight? I don’t know about you but I came to boogie. I just want to make sure you know your boogie companions for the night, the Nocturnals here. We’re gonna start with a real Memphis break down…” She went up to each member as she introduced and boogied with them elevating the crowd’s excitement. Grace and her fans bantered back and forth singing “yeah…yeah” repeatedly. As the song closed, they glided into “Big White Gate.” This country-esque tune slowed things down and brought heavy emotion. Scott Tournet’s powerful solo drove the band to the very last verse.

“Turntable” and “Runaway” were among the crowd’s favorites from the new album. She dedicated “Turntable” to anyone who still owns a record player. After “Runaway,” the band dedicated a tribute to Elvis Presley, honoring both the King and the city of Memphis. They’ve played the tribute in several other cities as well. The audience was very pleased with this tune.

During the latter portion of the set, they performed an impressive rendition of “Tush” by ZZ Top. By this point Grace was barefoot, bouncing around the stage. She stopped in the middle of the song to explain that when she was a little girl, listening to her daddy’s records, she thought they were saying “lookin’ for some touch,” but later in life realized that they were looking for some “Tush.” (She then patted her bum for emphasis.) Again, Tournet and Yurco’s vacillating was impressive, especially with Grace’s vocals and her sexy dance moves to back them up.

While Scott Tournet played a phenomenal solo in “Stop the Bus,” Grace Potter was rocking out with drummer Matthew Burr and almost knocked over one of the percussion instruments in the process. No worries though, a crew member came to the rescue.

The next song, “Medicine” was certainly a highlight of the show. All the band members crowded around the drums and began playing them sporadically. This drove the crowd wild, especially when they threw the drumsticks out for the audience to catch. Potter spun around with her hands up in the air hyping up the audience. She then went behind the stage, grabbed some sort of recording device, and took video of her aggressive fans.

Grace moved over to the piano to tone the mood down a bit. She awarded her fans another special treat. Potter teased the crowd with a brief excerpt of “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn, during her performance of “Apologies.”

Grace Potter

Next up, was another fan-favorite from the new album, called “The Divide.” Grace reached her hands out to the crowd in a plea before she exploded with a massive burst of energy. Transitioning from “The Divide,” they quickly went into their hit “Paris.” Grace began to get little rowdy, knocking over the mic stand, then used her microphone to strum her guitar. Her and Tournet’s heavy guitar riffs really made this song what it was.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals surprised the crowd one last time. Yurco kept the crowd hyped during a solo acoustic performance, which started out as the introduction to “Crazy on You” by Heart. He went on to improvise, and segued into a Led Zeppelin “Over the Hills and Far Away” jam. After putting her shoes back on, Grace and the rest of the Nocturnals joined him onstage, and performed a full cover of “Crazy on You.” This was the final performance of the evening, and quite possibly the most entertaining moment of the entire show.

Grace Potter really knows how to work her crowds. Without shoes, she seemed to have a “down to Earth” feel, and attitude which was refreshing. Her high energy voice and dance moves in combination with Yurko and Tournet’s chemistry was exceptional. Memphians really appreciated the Elvis tribute, as well as the “Walking in Memphis” tease. The covers of ZZ Top and Heart songs were on point, and undoubtedly impressive.

Rayland Baxter and band

Set List
1. The Lion The Beast The Beat
2. Nothing But the Water (II)
3. Big White Gate
4. Ah Mary
5. Turntable
6. Runaway
7. Elvis (AKU)
8. Stars
9. Ain’t No Time
10. Oasis
11. Tush (ZZ Top Cover)
12. Stop the Bus
13. Medicine

14. Apologies (Walking in Memphis TEASE)
15. The Divide
16. Paris
17. Crazy On You

– Dana Ainsworth

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