A vision. An angel. A Goddess. That’s exactly what Grace Potter looked like, taking the stage dressed in a sparkly, white dress, cut high enough to leave just a little to the imagination. That’s right, we’re finally going to talk about a jam band! Kicking things off for the night, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals played a solid show, jamming included, on the touch too small Claridge Homes Stage at the 2013 Ottawa Bluesfest. I say this because if they had been scheduled at a later time, on a bigger stage, you bet they would’ve rocked it. That might sound cliché, but there’s no other appropriate word: 4 flying V’s hanging at the ready certainly means you’re at a rock n' roll show.
The show opened with the much loved "Medicine" off of the self-titled 2010 release that pushed this hard working band into the spotlight. Dancing like no one was watching, but knowing full well no one could take their eyes off of her, it's clear why Potter is the namesake: her voice is astonishing. Showing us she can both scream and croon, Potter & her Nocturnals immediately slowed things down with “Low Road.”
The slow tempo didn’t last long though, and Potter showed she’s more than a pretty voice, picking up a guitar for “Stop The Bus.” The real treat was the jam in the middle, where guitarists Benny Yurco and Scott Turnet managed to garner a little bit of attention themselves (although the stiff-legged Turnet looked as if he would’ve been happier without it). Great jam, but very, very, very short. No matter, right away Potter shouted to the crowd to jump with her for “Turntable.” This is where it was obvious the crowd wanted to let loose, but just...couldn’t. A sunny evening before the beer has really started to flow isn’t the same as the dark, smoky bar The Nocturnal’s sound is made for.
Grace Potter, is there anything you can’t do? She took to the keys for “Stars” from last year’s album The Lion the Beast the Beat. Then it was the Nocturnal’s turn to shine, with a mid-song jam on “2:22” a throwback to their early days. Not a long jam, but maybe that’s because Potter had to dance like a maniac through it before hopping back onto the piano.
Because she’s the beautiful lead singer, people sometimes say Potter plays “token guitar.” Nuh uh, and she certainly proved it in during her solo rendition of “Nothing but The Water (I).” Grace, her guitar, and some knocks on the body for percussion. Beautiful. Everyone seemed to be mesmorized (or struck by the heat), but not for long since a cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” got the entire crowd going! A clever pick for their Canadian fans (and all the Rush fans in the audience)? A coincidence ? No telling, but the buzz kept up right through “The Lion the Beast the Beat,” and into “Paris (Ooh La La).” By now the crowd has grown sizably, so there were plenty of people to witness the all-members-on-the-drum-kit jam that cut into the middle of the song. Seriously. It was probably the only time Potter’s stage presence was overwhelmed by something else.
And then? That was it. The show ended almost…abruptly, after what felt like a very short 10 song set. Bluesfest fans were obviously left wanting more, and I’m sure there’ll be a huge turnout the next time Grace Potter and The Nocturnals visit O-Town.