Ray LaMontagne at Northrop Auditorium, 6/28/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Tony Nelson
Ray LaMontagne
With Hamilton Leithauser and the Belle Brigade
Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis
Saturday, June 28, 2014

A rainy Saturday evening in Minneapolis needed a soundtrack, and Ray LaMontagne's distinctive raspy voice lent the show at the newly remodeled Northrop Auditorium a backdrop that was sometimes melancholy and surprisingly psychedelic.

You can attribute some of the the trippy vibe to the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who produced LaMontagne's latest foray, Supernova. No hallucinogens were needed as LaMontagne  played in front of a screen projecting images that were mind-bending enough. The set opened with the bright notes to "Gossip in the Grain," drawing cheerful hollers from the audience.

Dressed as if he was ready for an adventure out west, with his full beard and hat, LaMontagne moved through his pieces with little interaction with the crowd. The singer ignored the rowdy audience that got bolder as the show went on and would spontaneously call out with shouts of, "Ray LaMontagne is my hero!" LaMontagne did break that wall a few times throughout the evening, humbly saying, "Thank you. You all are so polite. Most of the time, by the third song in, most of the audience is pretty stoned, and we get our contact high."

Much of the set pulled from Supernova, including the title track, which may be the happiest among the batch of new songs. "Airwaves" brought out the delicious textures in Ray's vocals; while the song was meant to sound like rough white noise on the album, live, it sounded more like tall grasses brushing against each other.

Ray knows the impact of his voice and uses it to entrance, be it in folksy pieces like "Beg Steal or Borrow" or the powerful "Meg White," his ode to the White Stripes drummer. How many people can include the line, "Baby, you're the bomb," in a song, yet make it still sound poetic? Only Ray LaMontagne, it seems. The track moves in waves of tempo changes from pulsing drums that rival a White Stripes song to a circus-like chorus to including the riffs from "Seven Nation Army."

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