Grace Potter, Aug. 3 at Meijer Gardens amphitheater.
After a pleasing and energetic seven-song, 35-minute opening set by Brynn Elliott (she had me by coming out a cappella to start but her snippet of U2 imbedded in “Lose Control” cemented it), Potter and her mostly non-Nocturnal band hit the stage before 8 p.m., played right up to the 10 p.m. “fire marshal” closing time at the Gardens. The 17 (or so) song set was highlighted by a mix of songs from her 2015 retro rock solo album “Midnight”, a steady stream of her varied work from her “ … and the Nocturnals” recordings, and a couple trips into jam-band deep space. Highlights for me “Look What We’ve Become” from her “Midnight” – with her shredding on her Gibson Signature Flying V electric guitar – and the gentle, sweet, Nocturnal days’ “Stars” to open her encore. Bottom line is that on a hot August night, Potter and her big, bad rock ‘n’ roll band had most of the crowd on its feet almost from start to finish, and those that didn’t shouldn’t have been there anyway.
May I have more, please?
Grace Potter, with her Nocturnals, cut their Vermont polished teeth by touring on the jam band circuit (with the likes of Dead Head heir and fellow Vermonters Phish), but as proved by her newest solo recording, she is really more in the rock diva mold of Stevie Nicks in her late 1970s and early 1980s Fleetwood Mac – ya, I know that dates me, but such are the joys of long life.
Potter’s style on stage is all free-flowing, hippy-dippy girl glamor, but when she rocks, she really rocks hard. Whether it is dancing around barefoot while one of her bandmates goes off (special note to Benny Yurco’s guitar work) or when she is playing her own guitar leads or pounding on the Hammond B3 organ, Potter is at her best when she is bigger than life reveling in her retro rock babe stardom.
When she comes on-stage, all big and bad and bold, she is all “Here I am, ready to party with me?” On songs like the “Paris (Ooh La La)” and “The Lion the Beast the Beat” she is larger than life; she is “the star” and she knows it. When she accepts a bouquet of flowers from a middle-age fan, or a bra of unknown origin (she, clearly, has admirers and ardent admirers), she flaunts her trophies. But, as any good hippy-dippy girl is capable, she knows how to speak from the heart, and for the heart of our hippy-dippy planet, as on the fine new track “The Miner.”
But whether hitting it hard or playing it smooth on the vocals, Potter – like Nicks used to do so long ago – gives the audience all she has. Borrowing from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as Potter did, “Give it away, give it away, give it away now!”
What’s up next with the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park: War and Los Lonely Boys on Aug. 10, with tickets still available; also with tickets available are Toto on Aug. 6 and the rescheduled Tears for Fears on Sept. 26.
— K.D. Norris
Schedule and more info: meijergardens.org/calendar/summer-concerts-at-meijer-gardens
Free concerts on Tuesday nights (through August): http://www.meijergardens.org/calendar/tuesday-evening-music-club/