Grace Potter Revels in Intimate Solo South Florida Show: Review
Grace Potter returned to South Florida on Saturday night (April 24) to perform before a sold-out, socially-distanced crowd that filled nearly every crevice at The Pavilion at Old School Square in Delray Beach. Potter took the stage without her band The Nocturnals, something she has done for the past few years, focusing on a solo career. The Nocturnals are still technically a band, just one in limbo since the departure of co-founders Scott Tournet and Matt Burr, leaving Potter as the lone remaining original founding member.
Regardless, Potter’s energetic approach to her live shows hasn’t changed despite life-changing events over the past few years that included a divorce from Matt Burr, marriage to record producer Eric Valentine, and the birth of her first child. From 2016-2018, Potter took a step back, taking a break from performing, playing just 18 shows over a three-year period. It seems the break was good, giving her a chance to reflect on her new family and career, allowing her to decide what would be the next phase in her life. Since then, she has gradually returned to live performances and clearly hasn’t missed a step.
On a beautiful 79-degree Saturday night under clear skies, Potter’s biggest fans showed up and welcomed the longtime singer/songwriter back to South Florida; she last played the area in 2016. It was a sold-out show where fans were able to enjoy themselves in the safety of four-seat socially-distanced pods that provided music lovers with a brief respite from the year-and-a-half-long pandemic. Old School Square has been the lone venue in South Florida with live performances from headline acts, giving music lovers a chance to see live performances again in a safe setting.
The stage setup was simple. It included everything Potter needed to perform her varying blues, folk, and rock styles, including a pair of matching acoustic guitars, a Wurlitzer organ, and twin Flying V guitars. The sound and lighting were exactly right for this venue. With all the elements in place, Potter took the stage and performed a full 90-minute, non-stop set of her very best.
On this night Potter gave us a little of everything, something new and something old, including opening up the catalog of her band’s most recognized tunes and some choice covers. Seeing Potter working solo made one thing clear: she is free and unleashed to do the music she loves. She no longer needs to share the decisions about who, what, where, when, and why. She has become grounded; from the way it looked, she was enjoying performing and even engaged with the crowd, sharing some insight about her personal life, something Potter has rarely done in the past. On this tour, she is keeping things simple, traveling to her shows with her family in an RV. Perhaps this new solo act is working, but the edgier side of Potter would work better with a rock band that could enhance her high-energy style that her longtime fans have known her for.
Songs like “Medicine,” “Nothing But Water,” and “Every Heartbeat” had a metamorphic effect, erupting pure emotion that reverberated through the speakers straight into the hearts of those listening. The overall effect of this series of songs was a meditative and evocative experience, with Potter constantly grounding herself in each word and connecting with her audience. Her voice was at full power all night, from low, bluesy, restrained harmonies while she played her acoustic, to full-power choruses loud enough to jerk you out of your seat and get you strumming along with her as she shredded on her signature Gibson Flying V.
Grace Potter proved you don’t need a full band to deliver an exceptional show. However, would it be nice to see Potter rock out with a bass player and drummer? Yes, but on this night she delivered an intimate set to her longtime fans and gave everyone what they came for: a night of her very best that allowed us to be reintroduced to Grace Potter.