Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Wearing black heels and a peacock-colored sash skirt, Grace Potter strutted on to the Music Farm stage on Thursday night to huge cheers from the packed audience. Her band, the Nocturnals, played on as she snaked seductively up to the microphone and screamed, “How you doing Charleston?”
Two hours of non-stop rocking, dancing, and wailing later, the crowd was exhausted and enthralled from the kick-ass energy of the band and the undeniable force of Potter’s personality. It is rare to see a performer with such power over a crowd. She captured and held everyone’s attention all night with every lusty howl, every devastating smile, every sway of the hips drawing us closer until nothing existed but her and the anticipation of what she might do next.
Forgive me for gushing, but if anyone is gush-worthy, it is Ms. Potter. She is the quintessential frontwoman; an Energizer bunny lifting up the band and the crowd with her raw energy and out-of-this-world voice. It is as if Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and Stevie Nicks were combined into one super-sensual, scary-talented Wonder Woman. She has the husky voice of Cat Power, but with zero vulnerability, just pure confidence oozing out of every squeal and shake.
And there is no better band for her than the Vermont-based Nocturnals, who somehow manage to keep up with her hectic, verge-of-explosion style. Guitarists Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco, bassist Catherine Popper, and drummer Matt Burr made it look effortless, and just like Potter, their joy and passion were obvious in every song.
After rocking “Goodbye Kiss” and “Only Love” from this year’s self-titled album, the bluesy wailer “Joey” (from 2006’s Nothing But The Water) cranked up the volume to 11, where it stayed the rest of the night. The show was never boring and never static; if a song slowed, it was only long enough to realize that something big was about to happen.
After switching from piano to a black Gibson near the end, Potter writhed on the ground, pounding her guitar with her fists and screaming into the microphone as the band jammed through their poppy new hit, “Paris (Ooh La La),” which she followed by out-Grace-Slicking Grace Slick with a spine-tingling cover of “White Rabbit.”
In the middle of a 20-minute encore, the show hit its high mark when Potter, Popper, and both guitarists congregated at the drum set, each hitting a different drum and pounding along a fantastic all-band drum solo.
And on the last song, “Medicine,” Potter repeated the line, “I got the medicine that everybody wants” over and over as the band took it up a notch one last time. She’s damn right; the world needs more of whatever medicine she’s got.