Monday, December 3, 2012

An Evening with Ray LaMontagne

Ok, so Mindy and I came to Columbus for a reason. That reason: Ray LaMontagne live at the Palace Theater. This was the final show in a sold out solo tour where tickets were damn near impossible to come by. I was excited to hear him perform alone. I don't hate the band, I just love stripped down, simple performances. And while he wasn't exactly solo (he had a guest bassist, Zack Hickman and Irish singer/songwriter Lisa Hannigan joining him to sing some backup), man was the show good. He opened with a longing, homesick version of 'New York City' and the rest of the show followed suit. He played one of my favorites, 'Jolene,' early in the set and just brought the place the their knees. He was honest and the show felt like the 100m homestretch at the end of a race, leaving it all out there. He left the stage at one point, admitting he felt like shit and was going to the back to throw up. While he did that Lisa Hannigan played a song from her album Passengers and the whole room sat with dropped jaws at her stunning Irish vocals and simple finger-picked tune. Hickman is amazing. He played the upright bass, the organ, a baritone sax, and at one point, a little toy piano. While Ray played the rhythm on the guitar, Hickman filled in melody on the bass (which was unreal).

This was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. It didn't sound like the album. It was raw and real. 'Trouble' found him pulling extended notes from his toenails that made you grit your teeth. He ended with a raucous version of 'repo man' that Zack Hickman just shredded on the upright bass. All three came back out for the encore where they performed another of Hanigan's songs, and finished off with Ray slowing things down and even breaking out the harmonica. What a show. What a performance. He did let on that there would be a new album in the coming year. He gave the audience two words to describe it: raw beats. He said that was all he would offer up. He then joked that it could be veggies or funk. Thank you Ray for an incredible show. Enjoy your downtime.

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