Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
Contributed by Duane Clawson
After reviewing a few shows that involved headbanging and crowd surfing, it was nice to take a break and enjoy crooning and songwriting at its finest. I would like to start off this review by apologizing, as I was planning to review the opening band, The Belle Brigade, but for some reason their opening slot was moved up forty minutes and their performance was missed. So we’ll hopefully catch them at a later date. I did have the pleasure of catching the second act, Hamilton Leithauser, and was pleasantly surprised by his New York style of crooning. Hamilton provided a touch of smoothness that landed somewhere between Sinatra and Timberlake. Leithauser is currently on hiatus from his band, The Walkmen. The proceeding laid the perfect foundation for the rest of the night’s festivities.
The black stage was slow to light as Ray LaMontagne began to play the opening chords of “Gossip in the Grain”, but soon a light show worthy of Pink Floyd concert appeared behind LaMontagne. Warm blues and reds faded in and out as he stood almost motionless, except for the strumming of an acoustic guitar. His current tour coincides with his latest release, Supernova. But leaving no musical stone unturned, LaMontagne found time to play bits and pieces of his entire catalog. From the stringent photo policy to the fantastic light show, one gets the feeling that Mr. LaMontagne wants your attention on the music and the emotions it invokes instead of him personally. LaMontagne’s songwriting and live performances reference a long, gone era of music that favors everything from Cat Stevens to the Doors. A couple of the more powerful songs of the evening were the beautiful, “Jolene” from the 2004 album, Trouble and the breathy homage to one half of the White Stripes, “Meg White”. What LaMontagne lacks in flash and flare while onstage he certainly makes up for in his delivery of the message. As time and time again the audience was moved to repeated standing ovations. St. Louis, a town that is always looking to celebrate something, found cause tonight as it was LaMontagne’s birthday. A loose, acapella version of “Happy Birthday” had the singer embarrassed and appreciative! Later in the evening the band would work in a sing-a-long version of the same familiar birthday wishes, which had LaMontagne bowing graciously.
The night would end with a two-song encore capped off with the upbeat “Drive-In Movies”. This show was so good that few in the audience complained or noticed that two of LaMontagne’s more popular songs, “You are the Best Thing” and “Henry Nearly Killed Me (It’s a Shame)” were omitted from the setlist. Mr. LaMontagne’s style is a rarity in today’s music scene and should be cherished while it’s still around! Thanks to Ray for letting MTC bear witness to this great night of music. Photos of the show are below:
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Ray LaMontagne / Hamilton Leithauser @ The Fabulous Fox Theater, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 2:00:00 PM Rating: