Words + Photos by Tom Dellinger
With one of the most distinctive voices in music these days, singer Ray LaMontagne played to a packed house at Oakland’s luxurious Fox Theatre on October 14th. His performance highlighted his most recent release, Supernova.
Joining Ray were Ethan and Barbara Bruska of the opening band, The Belle Brigade. With Barbara on drums and Ethan on guitar, the siblings also added a rich dimension to the vocals. As was clearly demonstrated during the Brigade’s opening set, the two enjoy the kind of harmonizing abilities that’s seemingly reserved for siblings. With a well received sophomore record, Just Because, behind them, they delivered a tight and rich performance that turned out to be very memorable. We can expect to see and hear more from this band in the future.
Ray and the band got down to business from the start of their set, as they cruised sans chatter from one song to the next at a steady pace. Evident in many of the tracks from Supernova was a recognizable 60’s flavor, though not dominated by it. It’s a collection of songs that show an adventurous departure from his previous work. Unusual song structure, a little strange dissonance here and there and strong psychedelic flavors dropped from time to time kept things interesting.
It wasn’t until after a climactic climb to the driving funk of “Repo Man” and the psychedelia colored “Smashing” that gears changed as the band was replaced with only Ray (on acoustic guitar) and bassist Zachariah Hickman on his upright. Suddenly there were some verbal musings from Ray as the audience responded in kind. It was a perfect time to make a dramatic shift as he launched into “Burn” and his smash hit, “Trouble.” From this point forward, you knew he had the house in his pocket as the audience became more vocal. It felt warm and personal as Ray closed the set with “Jolene”.
The rapport built in the acoustic portion was extended through two encores, which certainly sent LaMontagne fans home with a smile.
2. She’s the One
3. For the Summer
4. Pick Up a Gun
8. Repo Man
14. Meg White
15. God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise
16. Hey Me, Hey Mama
17. Drive-In Movies
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