REVIEW: Ray LaMontagne And The Pariah Dogs At The Greek Theater
Even after winning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk album earlier this year, LaMontagne is still relatively unknown to those outside the folk, indie world, but at The Greek Theater on Saturday night the atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation to hear LaMontagne’s raspy groan.
Vusi Mahlasela, an African folk singer-songwriter opened the show singing themes of freedom and hope in Africa. Although the crowd was sparse at this time, Mahlasela showed great enthusiasm singing alone with his guitar that set the tone of what was to follow with second opener Brandi Carlile’s foot-stomping performance immediately after.
Touring to promote her upcoming fourth album release, Carlile has promised her new album “sounds like a band that's absolutely pent up and totally overflowing with rock 'n' roll and couldn't wait to get in the studio and do these songs" according to Billboard. Carlile definitely showed her rock-n-roll attitude Saturday by grabbing hold of the crowd’s attention as soon as she strutted onto stage.
She sang songs from each of her three albums including her hit, “The Story,” that the crowd cheered for once she began the harmony.
Carlile’s voice seemed somewhat strained at times but definitely made up for that with her powerhouse covers of Johnny Cash’s “Jackson” and “Folsom Prison Blues” that got the crowd stomping their feet and clapping to the beat. Carlile is still a performer to keep watch of in the future with her charismatic performance and harmony-filled songs, and she definitely made some new fans Saturday night.
If Brandi Carlile immediately connected with the audience and got the crowd moving, Ray LaMontagne grabbed hold of the audience’s emotions when his soulful, raspy voice retched with emotion as he began “Burn.”
Known for his shy and reserved demeanor, LaMontagne only stopped after his first couple of songs to briefly introduce himself to the audience. For audience members wanting to learn more about the artist or have a peak into his personality, they were left disappointed as LaMontagne hardly took a break to address the audience throughout the night.
With his face in shadows under the stage lighting, LaMontagne seemed to purposely shield himself from the audience, hardly moving from his spot on the right side of the stage. One may complain that LaMontagne does not connect with his audience but looking at his entire released work, LaMontagne leaves everything out in the open in his songs.
His soul-stirring songs are all about his inner turmoil with himself and others and LaMontagne delivered a powerful performance that created somewhat of a spiritual experience among the crowd. As LaMontagne ripped into “New York City’s Killing Me” and “Empty” halfway through his set, it was common to see audience members closing their eyes with their heads hung swaying to the emotion that was pouring out of Ray LaMontagne’s voice.
Despite not interacting much with the crowd, Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs delivered strong, heart-wrenching performances throughout their set that peaked with the songs, “Jolene” and “Let it Be Me.”
Burn; For the Summer; Beg, Steal, or Borrow; Hold You in My Arms; Repo Man; Blue Canadian Rockies (The Byrds Cover); Shelter; Devil’s in the Jukebox; New York City’s Killing Me; God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise; Achin’ All This Time; Empty; Trouble; Jolene; Henry Nearly Killed Me (It’s a Shame); Let it Be Me; Long Distance Operator (Bob Dylan Cover); Like Rock & Roll and Radio
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