Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
12.31.06 :: Higher Ground :: Burlington, VT

Words & Images by: Trevor Pour

Grace Potter :: 12.31 :: Burlington, VT
Capping off a three-night run, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals sold out their third straight New Year's Eve to a blend of college partiers and 50-year old music connoisseurs. Grace Potter has achieved a level of success, at least in the Northeast, that spans a wide range of musical tastes as well as all generations. Her music has been called folk, punk, country, jamband, blues, and rock. Her shows attract concertgoers as young as 12 and those old enough to be Grace's grandparents. She's obviously doing something right.

As 10:30 rolled around, the Nocturnals took the stage and ripped into Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night," revving the energy in the room way up with the impressive guitar work of Scott Tournet. After only 15-minutes, the Nocturnals swapped out their electric guitars for mandolins, squeezeboxes, and lap steels. Jokingly offering to bribe the audience to keep quiet for an acoustic set, the quartet settled down for a few slower songs that strangely didn't interrupt the flow of the show. The crowd's enthusiasm carried into the quieter set. The 45-minute first set ended with the beautiful vocals of Grace Potter on the title track from the band's recent studio album Nothing But The Water.

Scott Tournet :: 12.31 :: Burlington, VT
After a far-too-long set break, the Nocturnals returned only minutes before midnight and a crowd that was almost expecting to miss the moment. A stilt-walker dressed as Father Time rushed his way through the excited audience to hand a giant clock to Grace for the final countdown. After a quick "Auld Lang Syne," the Nocturnals tore into a rendition of The Beatles' "Come Together," prompting a sing-a-long by virtually every able voice in the concert hall. At this point, they had won us over. Balloons were flying, confetti was in everyone's beer, and the champagne was flowing. Another cover immediately followed, a flat take on James Brown's "Sex Machine." It was pretty clear that the band had very little idea how to play funk music, but the crowd didn't care and the energy was spot on.

Grace Potter :: 12.31 :: Burlington, VT
The rest of the show was mostly newer material with the exception of "Treat Me Right" and "Joey." The energy onstage never faded but her new songs focused heavily on Tournet's guitar solos and Grace's occasional guitar forays, both of which turned out to be lacking by the end of the night. Tournet's skills were up to the task of a high-energy NYE show, but they just didn't hold water when it came to creativity. His jams were often without direction, although they were blazingly fast and right on tempo. Unfortunately, many audience members began to leave soon after this loud-guitar style began to eclipse the soul of the first set. To explain this odd change, Grace admitted near the end of the night that she lost her voice earlier in the show. She apologized told us their planned setlist was cut short when she lost her voice, and they moved to songs that depended less on singing.

By the time the band left the stage after the second set, over half the audience had left but the band still brought themselves back for an encore though there was virtually no call for one. An odd, kazoo-accompanied sing-along of "Join the Band," followed by a decent cover of Young's "Cortez the Killer" closed out the night. Potter's first set gave hope that this year was the mere tip of the iceberg for her future, but her second set scared many of what might become without a solid foundation. The road ahead is still shining bright for Potter, and we are certainly not letting half a bad night convince music fans otherwise.

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