Much Talent On The Stage This Night
I will say up front that this is one of my least favorite venues in the Boston area – the sound is inconsistent, the stage is high, and the view (and sound) is best from the center of the center section in rows 6 through about 16. In addition, for this show photographers were relegated to the far right of the venue, 15 rows back (I apologize for the less-than-usual quality of my photos – I now know I need a monopod).
On to the show. I was not extremely familiar with Ray’s music (although I knew more of his older songs than I thought) and had never seen him perform, so I was excited to be introduced to him.
Ray’s set was effectively split into third parts. The first approximately half of the set included mostly songs from his new release, ‘Supernova’. That album has been described to me as being psychedelic; I would agree based on what I heard and saw at the concert. The backdrop in the next photo is an example of the fine work done by Ray’s lighting team.
During that part of the set, he played the title song from the new release which drew loud applause.
His band included Zachariah Hickman on acoustic and electric bass as well as vocals, Barbara Gruska on drums, Ethan Gruska on guitar and keyboards, and Dave Depper on guitar and keys.
Zachariah was the subject of an extremely flattering Boston Globe article published that day. I had seen him perform in both of his own projects and have been quite impressed with him.
The middle part of the set was the part I enjoyed the most – duets performed by Ray and Zachariah. They sang beautiful harmonies on the more mellow songs that comprised this part of the show. Their chemistry was visible; it seemed as if they have been playing together for years although I do not believe they have been.
During the last part of the set, Ray turned mostly to older songs that had the audience howling with glee. The encore included other songs that were favorites of his fans, and the nearly two-hour set concluded in grand style.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit played the second opening set that lasted just under an hour. I love Jason, who just keeps getting better and better.
He played songs from ‘Southeastern’, his most recent release that has received wide acclaim, as well as earlier material. Alt-country describes his current project very well.
His band is fabulous, and includes Derry DeBorja on keyboards, Chad Gamble on drums and vocals, Jimbo Hart on bass and vocals, and Sadler Vaden on guitar and vocals.
I could have listened to them play all night and I plan to catch them the next time they tour as headliners; you should too.
The first opener was The Belle Brigade. I was impressed with their short set, which they performed in front of only a handful of people. Barbara Gruska quipped that it was the largest crowd for which they had ever performed (200 people for their set, I’d guess); they deserve to play for larger crowds.
Ray thanked the audience for ‘making the past ten years so great.’ Other than the few expressions of gratitude, Ray did not interact much with us. Considering that the lighting was at a fairly low level, I wonder if he’s a bit reserved. If so, that reservedness is at bay when he’s playing because he gave us his all.
I would have liked to see an encore with Jason and Ray, but that was not to be. Still, it was an evening of excellent music.
Posted on June 2, 2014, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, boston, concert review, Jason Isbell, music, Ray LaMontagne, The Belle Brigade, Zachariah Hickman. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.