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Friday, 11 January 2013 16:59

Concert review: Rock 'n' roll excitement with Grace Potter and the Nocturals and Langhorne Slim and the Law at the Pageant, Thursday, January 10

Grace Potter at the Pageant Grace Potter at the Pageant Sam Africano
Written by Stacey Willmering
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If Thursday night's rock show at the Pageant -- featuring Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Langhorne Slim and the Law -- offers any indication of what this year's concerts will bring, it's going to be a fun year.

Langhorne Slim and the Law, a band that has frequented the KDHX studios over the years, kicked off the night with the song, "Bad Luck." The energy spawned by this salutation was just a precursor to the music they were about to shell out. The band's 11-song set included several highlights from the 2012 album, "The Way We Move."

Off stage, singer and songwriter Langhorne Slim personally comes across as having a mellow, peaceful disposition. On stage, however, he is quite the entertainer. His unforgettable performance as a singer and guitar player owes to his physical animation, commitment to every lyric and engagement with the audience. More than once, he sat on the ledge of center stage to get up close and personal with the fans who were packed into the open floor area. I wouldn't exactly say he dances on stage; rather, he jumps around, leans into the rhythm, kneels down on his knees to deliver his chords and lyrics, and occasionally shakes his head with fiery vocal deliverance. His voice ranges from a graveled desperation to a smooth comfort; the sincerity is present in every word of every song. He experiences the music and gives 110% to the audience. Langhorne Slim's presentation was nothing short of cool and entertaining.

Band members Malachi DeLorenzo (drums), David Moore (banjo, keys) and Jeff Ratner (bass) all gave a solid performance and offered equally impressive highlights. The keyboard parts shone on "Fire" and "The Way We Move," while the banjo and upright bass stole the spotlight on "Someday." The set did include a couple of slower, quieter songs which accentuated Langhorne Slim's vocal ability, but the majority of the band's performance was lively and upbeat. Several times they moved into outstanding jam sessions that made the crowd go wild. I thought the banjo strings were going to snap at any second. They nailed the picking work. The set concluded with "Past Lives," an engaging, interpersonal exploration, leaving us with the final repeated lyrics, "I ain't dead anymore." No, Langhorne Slim and the Law certainly is not dead.

Headliner Grace Potter and the Nocturnals brought a high-powered rock 'n' roll performance, which perhaps pleasantly surprised portions of the ticket holders. I noticed a few attendees' expressions when they quickly discovered what a bad-ass Grace Potter is. She embodies the female rock-star persona. She is beautiful with exceptional taste in style and fashion (hence the sparkly jacket, leather skirt and heels last night). Her voice is gorgeous and holds exceptional stamina, all the while she switches between acoustic guitar, Flying-V electric guitar, tambourine and keyboard. She validates every rock song with hair-whipping and dance moves, which she eventually performed barefoot. I have insufficient words to describe how amazing she is.

The band opened with "Paris (Ooh La La)" featuring three electric guitars. The energy in the room progressed, fueled by the Nocturnals' unending prowess. The band -- Potter (vocals, guitar, tambourine, keyboard), Matt Burr (drums), Scott Tournet (guitar, bass) and Benny Yurco (guitar, bass) played about 16 songs from various albums. A few to mention include "Turntable," "Mastemind," Ah, Mary," "Stop the Bus" and "The Divide." The reeling lead-ins, multiple guitar collaborations and timing with the professional lighting were only a few reasons why this was a terrific show.

Other highlights: Potter crawled across the stage in a feline motion to meet the low-lying guitar players for a dramatic entrance; the strung light bulbs enchanted the room during the chorus of radio hit "Stars"; the bluesy call and answer between the electric guitar and Potter's voice; a brief but impressive harmonica appearance; and, finally, a great acoustic guitar solo by Benny Yurco.

The encore was everything an encore should be: A cover of Heart's "Crazy on You," followed by earlier tune, "Apologies" and the grand finale, the title track of their latest record, "The Lion The Beast The Beat," an incredible adrenaline rush to close out the night.

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