Soon after, the night’s second act, Jason Isbell, took the stage, and wowed the crowd with a dose of country rock, Southern style. The former member of the Drive By Truckers has been recording & touring with his current band, The 400 Unit, since 2009. Jason’s set, mostly culled from his last two releases, 2013’s Southeastern & 2011’s Here We Rest, ranged from the driving guitars of songs like “Super 8” to more reflective numbers like the powerful, moving “Elephant.” I was somewhat familiar with Mr. Isbell’s work before the show, but I must she won me over with his excellent guitar work & vocals. The 400 Unit provided solid support, and had excellent interplay with Jason. Judging from the crowd’s reaction, by the time his set was over, he had gained himself a whole new group of fans. If you’re a Southern rock or country fan, check out Jason’s music; you won’t be disappointed.
|Ray LaMontagne (on right): Photo by John V|
The notoriously crowd shy LaMontagne did take time to thank the fans at several points during the show, and spoke briefly to the crowd during the acoustic set as well. But as always with Ray, his often intense live shows are all about the music, and he didn’t disappoint during this fine performance. He clearly loves playing with this band, and their accompaniment was tight & focused when it needed to be, and looser & more jam oriented when the occasion warranted, as it did on one of the more rocking songs of the evening, “Meg White.” The concert ended with the one-two punch encore of “Hey Me, Hey Mama” and a fantastic version of Supernova’s closing track, “Drive-In Movies.” It's my second time seeing Ray live (the first was back in 2009) and I thought the show was excellent all around, though it would have been nice to hear a couple more of those "old songs."
It was a great night of music, from three different but very entertaining bands. If you get a chance to see Ray’s show on the road this summer, I'd check it out for sure. Here are links to The Belle Brigade’s “When Everything Was What it Was,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X25Nz6q2150&feature=kp, Jason Isbell’s “Alabama Pines,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA5ad3fU1_8, and Ray LaMontagne’s “Supernova,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4AgBwQyGq4.