RAY LAMONTAGNE: TROUBLE IN GUITAR TOWN

Ray Lamontagne & Sarah Blasko :: 8.16.05 :: City Hall :: Nashville, TN

Words & Images by Brad Hodge


Ray Lamontagne :: 08.16 :: City Hall, TN
A leftfielder by nature, the extremely reserved Ray Lamontagne has been pulled to front and center by the overwhelming success of his debut album Trouble. Earlier this year, Ray came to town to do Lightning 100's Live Radio Hour to a sold out crowd of ecstatic fans. Then he was left breathless and weak in the knees by the huge adoration he received at middle Tennessee's Bonnaroo Music Festival. It is no surprise that when he was announced as the first act to play Nashville's newest venue City Hall, it would be a sold out affair.

Fellow traveler Sarah Blasko opened the show with a mellow set of strikingly crafted songs. The Australian played a mix of guitar, keys, and tambourine with accompaniment from a lone guitarist while working through songs from the most recent The Overture and the Underscore. The stripped down versions, still strikingly beautiful, seemed a little too bare-boned without the drums of Joey Waronker and bass of David Keys that accompany her in the studio.


Ray Lamontagne :: 08.16 :: City Hall, TN
Ray took to the stage alone with his guitar for the first few songs. Nervously settling into his responsibilities, he warmed up to the crowd rather quickly, and it was no time at all before the singer was crooning to the crowd with his throwback soulful sound. As he worked through songs like "Trouble" and "Hold You in My Arms," the crowd became less astute to what was coming from the stage, and it became hard to concentrate while blocking out the chatter of hipsters who were there to socialize and be seen. Ray, paying no mind to the added distraction, continued to pour out a soulful delivery. Offering up a breathtaking delivery on "Jolene," the chatter turned restlessly toward a sing-along, which was equally as distracting, but you can't really be angered. The songs are such astounding portrayals of life that it is hard not to join in. The worn-in sound is comforting like an autumn afternoon on a porch swing.

As Ray's band joined in, the overall sound became more audible, and the show - more enjoyable. The addition of drums to the live show lends a tasteful flavor and really beefs up the overall sound. The three musicians really grooved well together, and songs like "Forever My Friend" and the slowed-down "How Come" were greatly improved by the extra instrumentation.

This stop was one of Ray's last headlining dates before going on the road as the opening act for the newly formed John Mayer Trio, and it was an honor to have him back in Guitar Town.

JamBase | Nashville
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[Published on: 9/7/05]

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