SALT LAKE CITY — A sure sign that Grace Potter has her mojo going full tilt while she’s on stage is when she kicks her shoes off and does the rest of the show barefoot.
Sunday night at Red Butte Garden, Potter’s heels lasted all of half a song before being tossed to the side of the stage.
Potter has said that last year’s concert at Red Butte was one of the most memorable of the tour. Based on Sunday night’s show and the enthusiasm she and her band, the Nocturnals, brought to the stage from the first note, this year’s show should be well in the same category.
Opening with “Hot Summer Night,” Potter started the show from the back of Red Butte and walked through the crowd to the stage while singing to join her bandmates. Many audience members in the nearly sold out venue couldn’t figure out where the vocals were coming from until Potter made it about halfway down the hill. After that, it was impossible for most to take their eyes off the charismatic Potter and her short sundress.
“Goodbye Kiss” ended with a cover of “Red Red Wine” – one of four cover songs on the evening – which was changed into “Red Red Butte.” A nice tribute to the venue, but the show didn’t really pick up momentum until Potter dug deep into her catalog for “Joey” off 2005’s Nothing But the Water. She followed that up with a one-two punch of great tracks off her most recent album, The Lion, The Beast, The Beat, in “Roulette” and “Keepsake,” making their Utah concert debuts (if memory serves me correctly).
“One Short Night” made a very welcome return to the set list as did the rarely played “Here’s To The Meantime,” both among the highlights of the evening.
An acoustic jam of “Devil’s Train” off the upcoming Lone Ranger movie soundtrack turned into a cover of “House of the Rising Sun.”
Potter ended the main set strong with “Medicine,” “Nothing But the Water,” “The Divide” and “Paris (Oh La La).” As one would expect from Potter, when she wasn’t alternating between piano, acoustic guitar and her signature flying V, she was dancing around all parts of the stage like a woman possessed.
For the encore, huge kudos to Grace for seemingly adding songs to the set list as she went along and playing right up until the Red Butte curfew, giving fans a full two-hour show, rather than sticking to the original set list and ending early. Potter added the crowd pleasing “Apologies” followed by the third cover song of the evening, Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” She seemed to also add “2:22″ at the last minute which again turned into the most jamming cover song of the show, The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”
The evening ended appropriately with the namesake of the current tour, “The Lion, The Beast, The Beat.”
GPN are one of those bands that never play the same set list twice. Although Grace and the Nocs only have a handful of songs that are played on mainstream radio, they’re a band that could play any song off any of their albums at any time. The trap that a person can easily fall into at a Grace Potter show is thinking about all the songs that WEREN’T played rather than focusing on all the ones that were.
On Sunday, Potter, Scott Tournet, Benny Yurco, Matt Burr and Michael Libramento put on another killer performance in Utah. And they still left the audience wanting more because there are so many great GPN songs that they could have played. In other words, as long they keep coming back to Salt Lake City, fans will keep showing up. Grace Potter’s next visit to Utah can’t come soon enough.