Front Row Focus | Concert Review: Grace Potter (October 14, 2015)

Concert Review: Grace Potter (October 14, 2015)

November 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

ARTIST:  Grace Potter

VENUE:  The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC

DATE:  October 14, 2015

Review By:  Hannah Bober

Photos By:  David J. Simchock

Rayland Baxter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)Rayland Baxter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock Mid-October at the Orange Peel presented our little city in the mountains with not one but two evenings with Grace Potter. And, what a special event the second show in particular turned out to be. Like the first gig, Wednesday night's show at the Orange Peel in downtown Asheville opened up with the rhythms of Rayland Baxter and his band.  Quirky and conversational, Baxter quickly drew the crowd in with his lighthearted introductions to each number.  The group had a fun and easygoing vibe, and threw down a refreshing, come-as-you-are set of alternative rock.

Baxter embraced several different influences, at one time sounding rather similar to Weezer when they played "Freakin' Me Out", while the following song "Temporary Queen of a Bad Time" had a vibe that was more reminiscent of The Doors.  Regardless of the instrumental route they took, each of the group's songs was well-worth the listen.  Different as he is to Grace Potter, Baxter carries a parallel versatility in his music and provided a solid lead into the headlining act.

Grace Potter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)Grace Potter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock There are many musicians who deliver a great concert, but fewer are the artists that can actually put on a show.  When Grace Potter danced across the stage at the Orange Peel, it was evident that her fans were in for more than a night of lyrics and guitar.  Rapidly gaining popularity in the last few years, Grace Potter, who is no longer tagging "and the Nocturnals" next to her name, is as versatile as she is dynamic.  From country, blues and folk rock to straight up rock 'n roll, she and her band have something for anyone looking to amp it up a notch.  With a voice reaching octaves on par with Grace Slick coupled with a Joan Jett attitude, Potter and her crew are the whole performance package.

Dressed in fringe and tambourine in hand, Potter twisted and swayed exuberantly across the stage as they opened with the easy, blues-inspired "Medicine".  She briefly traded the tambourine for a guitar with "Never Go Back", before abandoning both to jump into "Loneliest Soul", a psychedelic piece with an energetic vibe.  Only Potter's silhouette was visible as she continued to jive and the song went entirely instrumental, giving the stage a dreamlike quality.

Grace Potter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)Grace Potter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock Versatile performer as she is, Potter seemed most in her element when the genre switched to country rock.  Slipping into the slightest twang as the band slowed things down with "Nobody's Born with a Broken Heart", she played to her enthusiastic Appalachian audience.  Maybe it was just the fringe, but at that moment Potter was every bit the sweet country star.

"I'm havin' a good time in Asheville!"  Potter exclaimed, receiving an enormous bout of applause from her fans before swinging into the edgy rock number "Instigators".  Everyone in the house, including the animated singer herself, jumped up and down in time with the beat as the song gained momentum.

After a solid metal instrumental jam, Potter once again addressed the audience and gave a shout-out to the one who "helped [her] come of become a touring musician."  The crowd erupted in applause as she welcomed her mentor and fellow musician Warren Haynes onstage.  An Asheville native, formerly of the Allman Brothers Band and founding member of Gov't Mule, Haynes was very recently inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.  The harmony between he and Potter was extraordinary as they broke into "Gold Dust Woman", accompanied by short, familiar guitar riffs.

Grace Potter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)Warren Haynes & Grace Potter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock

I was completely unprepared for what came next, which was a rendition of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" that was so authentic that it gave me the chills.  Between Haynes' guitar, the band's incredible instrumentals, and Potter's vocals reminiscent of Merry Clayton herself, every musician paid ample tribute to this Vietnam War-era anthem.  "Asheville is the coolest place in the whole world," was the testimony from the stage after this unbelievable surprise performance.  As I've seen more than a few awesome shows in our small city, I am inclined to agree.

The band kicked it up a notch with a grande finale of songs, including their radio hit "Paris Ooh La La".  As they played through the last few numbers, Potter broke out her Gibson Flying V for the Buddy Holly classic, "Not Fade Away".  With her unlimited energy and the incredible talent and skill of the band, Grace Potter will surely not fade away anytime soon.



Grace Potter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)Grace Potter - 2015-10-14 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock


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