Soulful, stylish and sexy, Grace Potter is a force of nature. Her aura and music exude resilience and strength, and her soaring vocals are nothing short of awe-inspiring. While Grace’s musical DNA seems to be based in the pain and loss of blues and outlaw country, she is not one to shy away from exploring other genres of sound.
Touring on her first solo album, Midnight, Grace brought a new flavor of her live show to Austin’s Moody Theater Saturday night. Her performance incorporated upbeat dance tracks and electronic hooks with her signature rock anthems and bluesy (sometimes downright depressing) songwriting. Grace is the consummate performer; mixing an unabashed sexuality, limitless vocal talent, and a hope-filled message that seems more authentic and empowering than many of her other female pop star counterparts.
Eliza Hardy Jones opened for Grace, setting a soul-filled, nearly somber, mood that would serve as the simmer before the roaring fire of Grace swept through the Moody Theater. Grace opened her set with “Hot To Touch”, a barnstorming pop track off of Midnight, that had Grace running circles onstage like a whirling dervish.
Grace returned to her rocking roots on “Ah Mary” and “Empty Heart” before busting out a riveting alt-country track on “Biggest Fan.”
One of the highlights of the night came with the new synth-heavy track, “Never Go Back”, with an infectious chorus and soaring vocals. The show speedometer was brought down significantly when Grace launched into “Low Road”, with a pertinent preamble:
“This is a song I wrote in Austin. I was walking alone downtown after taking two Tylenol PMs and I met some drifters, who for whatever reason had had something go wrong in their lives. I decided to spend the night with these people, talking with them until morning, and then I wrote this song.”
Grace reignited the adrenaline within the show with a hard rocking “ Nothing But The Water”, and then followed it with four new pop-centric tracks; “Instigators”, “Your Girl”, “Alive Tonight” and, “Delirious”. The highlight of the new tracks was “Your Girl” , a sugar-pop earworm that can have you humming it all day.
Grace ended the set with some familiar Nocturnal’s songs like “Watching You”, “Turntable”, and the stadium-shaking “The Lion the Beast the Beat.” After a brief pause, Grace came back for an encore that included “Stars” and the rollicking older hit “Stop the Bus”.
A major highlight of the set was Grace’s tribute to the man she said she fell in love with when she was only six years old, the late David Bowie. Grace played “As The World Falls Apart” by the Thin White Duke before playing the Nocturnals’ most recognized power jam, “Paris (Ooh La La)”.
It is safe to say that Grace Potter is one of the few rock and roll warriors trying to keep mainstream music moored to its rock roots. As contemporary acts become more artificial-feeling and choreographed, Grace is a welcoming torch that keeps the Joplin-esque free spirit alive. Playing a full two-hour set that evoked a wide range of head-banging, dancing, and bleeding hearts, it is near impossible to have walked out after the show on Saturday night, having not been shaken by the sheer magnitude of Grace’s showmanship.