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SHOW REVIEW

Ray LaMontagne at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

by Matthew Shelter on June 17, 2014

Ray LaMontagne

Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

Boston, MA

May 31

Ray LaMontagne’s latest album, Supernova, released two months ago seems to have thrown a fair portion of the reclusive singer’s fan base for a loop. Judging from comments posted online, many fans want to like the new album, LaMontagne’s fifth studio release, but have struggled to adjust to a divergent sound that is much more polished and produced (some would say overproduced) than the spare and earthy Ray LaMontagne they first fell in love with. Personally, I was less bothered by the change in musical direction than others. Yes, it’s not the same Ray LaMontagne from Trouble or God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise, but taken on their own terms, shed of any preconceptions of what a Ray LaMontagne album should sound like, the 10 songs on Supernova are very good.

LaMontagne brought his Summer Supernova tour to Boston’s open-air Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on a cool Saturday night, headlining a well-matched triple bill that included opening sets by The Belle Brigade – who are also backing Ray on this tour – and Southern alt-country rocker Jason Isbell. After opening with “Gossip in the Grain,” LaMontagne then used much of the first half of the show to unveil the new songs. Wary fans should know that, live, the Supernova tracks sound very much like the Ray they know and love. On stage, stripped of studio polish, LaMontagne’s soulful voice cut through the night on new songs like “Lavender,” “She’s The One,” the Van Morrison-esque “Airwaves” and the album’s title track with all the power and raw, backcountry energy that attracted so many fans to the singer in the first place.

Midway through the set, LaMontagne segued back to some older tracks, generating the predictable big cheers for “Beg Steal or Borrow,” “Jolene” and, of course, “Trouble.” What was striking, though, was how strong the thread is between the new and old songs when heard live. When he slips a Supernova tune like “Smashing” between “Beg Steal or Borrow” and “Jolene,” they sound as if they could all have come from the same album.

No longer playing from the shadows as in past concerts, LaMontagne stood center stage throughout the show, while behind him a floor-to-ceiling digital backdrop displayed an ever-changing, swirling mix of geometric designs and psychedelic flowers. Along with The Belle Brigade’s Barbara Gruska on drums and Ethan Gruska on guitar and keyboards, LaMontagne’s superb touring band also includes Dave Depper on guitar and keys, and Zack Hickman, longtime sideman for Josh Ritter, on stand-up and electric bass.

The Boston show, the second of two nights in the city, was just the fifth so far on a three-month summer tour that will see LaMontagne play upwards of 40 dates. He has been noodling with the set list, but has generally hit all 10 tracks from Supernova during each show, and about an equal number of older tunes. He closed out the Boston set with “God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise,” before returning for a three-song encore that included “Hey Me Hey Mama,” “Old Before Your Time” and Supernova’s closing track, “Drive-in Movies,” a song about growing older and having kids that carries a whiff of autobiography about it.

Authors: Matthew Shelter

Comments

He played literally the exact same set list last night in KCMO. Great show, and your review hit the nail on the head.

Love Ray, and there isn’t money better spent than seeing him Live.

By Nick - 06/25/14

Ditto. Saw him in the Twin Cities last night. All around, superb concert. First time seeing (hearing) him live and hopefully not the last!

By Mark - 06/29/14

At first I wasn’t crazy with Supernova like I was with God Willin’ but after listening to all 10 songs I’m totally hooked! What an awesome album, I can’t stop listening to it! Ray has certainly proved that he is a huge talent and he continues to evolve

By Thomas Moore - 06/29/14

My wife and I saw him before in St Louis,Chicago,and recently in our hometown of Peoria. He is welcome back to Peoria anytime as the crowd didn’t want the night to stop. Supernova is a different direction but I think he needed this album as much as the fans did also. Looking forward, I would love for Ray to make a duet record with a female artist that deserves a break in the business.

By Chad Adams - 06/30/14

Saw him live last year and have tickets to see him again in Miami Beach! Can’t wait!
http://www.redhotseats.com/ray-lamontagne/

By kathy - 07/08/14

So jealous! wish they were playing the West Coast of Canada on this tour…maybe an extended leg?? wishing !!!

By Pee Wee - 07/08/14

We just saw him play Orlando last night and were so lucky to get 3rd row seats. I could literally see the breathe come out of his mouth when he sang. I’ve loved him since his debut Trouble and struggled to adapt to his new sound on Supernova. It’s definitely not my favorite but seeing him perform those songs live and stripped of studio production lent a new appreciation for them. Bottom line, watching him on stage is truly riveting. I was lost in his voice and passion the entire time. After the concert, I was exhausted. It was like going I was an emotional roller coaster…in a good way. I am seriously considering visiting my best friend in Dallas in August so I can see him again.

By Olive - 07/12/14

Saw Ray in Jax, Fl last night. He left it all on stage. Supernova is a beautiful step in the choice Ray has made to evolve.
I LOVE and am inspired by Ray and his choice of backup musicians. Thank you Ray!
Jeff Kordenbrock

By Jeff Kordenbrock - 07/16/14

We saw Ray on June 4th at Merriweather Post Pavilion outside DC. He is truly an amazing vocal stylist, and it was inspiring. He asked the audience to “give Super Nova” a chance, acknowledging many fans find it “somewhat strange.” I have to admit, the tunes have all really grown on me! Ray is the real deal—truly talented and in it for the music. Love him!

By Gwenn Marie - 07/22/14

Come to the uk please

By Tom dunn - 07/23/14

I love the new album although it is quite different from his others. I think an artist going in different directions is just fine. Especially when it comes to Ray, he is an excellent songwriter and his voice works with anything. I feel a connection with so many songs on each of his albums. For the new album it is giving me memories of watching our five year old son sing Supernova in the car while his one year old brother dances and listens so intently.  Everytime we get in the car he says “number seven mom.” My husband and I will be seeing him in Knoxville in two days and after reading this review and comments I am even more excited than ever. It truly will be an epic concert and indeed an emotional rollercoaster and I cannot wait. I hope everyone else can find enjoyment in this album as my boys and myself do each day.

By Sheena P - 07/27/14

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