I had seen Ray LaMontagne some years before this show at the Christmas Jam, and he was very good, but didn’t come on stage until about 1:30 in the morning, so I was somewhat less than enthused. But since then, I have developed a strong appreciation for his music and was very psyched to see him as a headliner.
My wife and I arrived at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and were greeted by our friends Wind and Althea, who were sitting two rows behind us. We chatted with them for a while, which was nice. It’s good to catch up with old friends that you haven’t seen in a while.
The show began promptly at 7:00 with Ethan Gruska as the opening act. He wasn’t the worst opening act I have seen, but definitely not the best either.
Finally, Ray came out. He had John Stirratt, the bass player from Wilco, with him. Also, on several songs, Ethan Gruska came out and assisted on three-part harmonies, which sounded great. I thought Gruska was much better as part of a group than by himself.
Ray’s set was excellent. He sounded amazing and the audience was very appreciative, almost to a fault. There were several people screaming during some of the more subtle moments, which I could have done without. And that leads me to a story about the people in front of us. Of course, we had to be behind a couple who were getting drunker and more obnoxious as the night went on. The guy kept trying to put his arm around the woman and inadvertently kept hitting my wife’s knee. Finally, during the last song of the encore, their talking hit fever pitch, at which point my wife leaned forward and nicely asked them if they could please not talk until after the show, to which the guy indignantly and loudly replied “NO!” I felt my muscles tense and had visions of me having to fight this jerk, but alas, he stopped talking for the rest of the song, and the person next to my wife gave her a high five.
After the lights came on, we saw several other of our friends, which was nice. I love seeing people I know at concerts. I don’t know why, but it just makes it feel more communal.
I looked at several of the setlists from the tour and it seems that the list was standard across shows. It seems right from what I remember, so here is the generic setlist from the tour.
- No Other Way
- Beg Steal or Borrow
- In My Own Way
- Pick Up a Gun
- Such a Simple Thing
- Blue Canadian Rockies
- To the Sea
- Like Rock & Roll and Radio
- All the Wild Horses
- Wouldn’t It Make a Lovely Photograph