Rock the hard way

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at Paradise Rock Club, December 6, 2007
By VICTORIA WELCH  |  December 10, 2007
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Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals know how to please a crowd. The Vermont quartet kicked off a three-night stand at the Paradise a week ago Thursday with a 15-song set heavy on material from their third full-length, the August release This Is Somewhere (Hollywood/Ragged Company). Band namesake Potter demonstrated her awareness that audiences dig a short skirt, tall boots, and a saucy attitude; her bandmates — guitarist Scott Tournet, bassist Bryan Dondero, and drummer Matt Burr — came off as likable guys armed with sick musical chops. It’s a recipe for success that the band worked to its full potential. But in live performance since late 2006, Potter and her players have sucked the subtlety out of this approach. These days, it’s more about the act of putting on a rock show than treating listeners to the bluesy rock style that generated buzz with 2005’s independent release Nothing But the Water.

Thursday’s set suggested an effort to bridge the gap between the Joplin sass on Water and the harder rock of Somewhere. Down-home percussive beats seeped into the standout “Here’s to the Meantime.” The organic anthem “Stop the Bus” soared, even with Potter taking a cautious approach to its demanding vocal range. A sharp cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Who Knows” showcased the band’s strength with the classics.

But they made it look like an awful lot of work. Already on the set opener, “Ain’t No Time,” Potter was arching her back in musical ecstasy, bypassing foreplay for instant gratification. And Burr assumed a rock-drummer pose each and every time he pounded on his kit. A breakdown percussion jam featuring all four players was innovative but overstayed its welcome. With few exceptions, the band seemed to determined to beat the audience into rock submission.

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  Topics: Live Reviews , Jimi Hendrix, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Matt Burr,  More more >
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