Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were able to successfully bring the energy to Deer Valley on August 20, despite multiple recent obstacles. We’ve seen Cancel or Postpone many shows it was great to see this show take place. In Utah lately, and other parts of western states, live musicians have not only had to navigate through a resurgent COVID-19 variant, but also nasty smokey skies. Lately, the extra safety blanket an outdoor show normally provides from the COVID-19 virus has been countered with risky, poor air quality from summer fires.
“We want to thank y’all for coming on out here tonight. Most of us live in Denver, so we’ve had to deal with the smoke too.” Rateliff told the Deer Valley audience. The air had significantly improved and didn’t seem to affect anyone’s enjoyment of the show. If you’re going to have an outdoor show when the air quality hasn’t been great, the best place to have it would be in the lush green mountains where the air is normally superior.
I personally hadn’t seen Rateliff live since he opened for his good buddy, and fellow Colorado neighbor, Gregory Alan Isakov. That was in Fort Collins, Colorado at the Aggie Theater back in January of 2014. While both artists have made significant strides since then, Rateliff was just a young pup on the music scene at the time. He has gotten a lot of mileage out of his musical wheels in the last seven-plus years.
When I first saw Rateliff, he was with a previous project called The Wheel. The Night Sweats were just a dream at that point. They would soon emerge from their cocoon. The Nightsweats include an awesome horn section. The section consisted of Daniel Hardaway (trumpet, flugelhorn), Andy Wild (baritone saxophone), and Jeff Dazey (tenor saxophone). The rest of the magnificent seven are Joseph Pope III (bass), Patrick Meese (drums), Mark Shusterman (keyboards), and Luke Mossman (guitar).
The magical sound these gentlemen are able to produce all together is nothing short of musical alchemy. You can’t describe it, you just have to feel and experience it. If it were a smoothie, you’d be adding to your blender the following ingredients. Some grass-roots revival audience hand-clapping, some Joe Cocker wildness, some Huey Lewis and The News positive hooyah vibes, and some live Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band a la 2012-2014 with his horns section.
There was high energy and dancing from the get go and throughout their entire set. As a Utah local, I tip my hat to that. Among the Utah concert scene, a Deer-Valley crowd might be known as the last crowd on their feet dancing. A Deer Valley crowd is thought of as more high-end, ritzy, baby boomers who would rather prioritize socializing and wine sipping before the music at a show. None of that mattered for this show. Everybody was dancing as Rateliff & the Night Sweat’s high-energy jams overruled the stereotype that Friday evening.
Rateliff opened up the set with an extra circular second microphone. He cupped it with one hand as he belted out the introductory lyrics to “Shoe Boot”. Four of the eight men on stage donned brimmed hats, including Rateliff himself. Most were wearing black pants and shirts with the exception of Rateliff. He was dressed in a long-sleeved blue-collared denim shirt.
“It was about 600 days of us not playing live shows. So it’s good to be back out here on the road,” Rateliff shared with gratitude. Rateliff showcased his musical talents and utility while sitting down to play keys for a few songs during the middle of the set.
“We’ve got a new album coming out within the next few months. And a new single we recently released we’d like to share with you.” Rateliff exclaimed. He and the band then played their new single “Survivor”.
If there was any room for criticism it would have to do with the set length of the show. Rateliff and his Night Sweats took the stage about 8:30 pm after the opener Delta Spirit. There is a strict 10:00 pm curfew at Deer Valley. I had hoped we would get a solid 90 minutes of rocking out from NR & TNS.
After closing their set at 9:35 pm with the high-energy hit “I Need Never Get Old”, the band returned to the stage for two more songs including their most popular jam “S.O.B.”. They left the stage at 9:50 pm. I would have loved to see Rateliff squeeze one if not two more songs. Taking it right up to 10:00 pm. He definitely has the catalog available for it. Although it’s a recent solo album hit, I would have loved to have heard the title track from last year’s album “It’s Still Alright”.
I do want to acknowledge that “S.O.B.” was absolutely incredible. Rateliff had the crowd humming, and singing together for the song. He pulled off some dramatic pauses for a few seconds here and there where it was absolutely silent before diving back into it.
The evening was truly a revival and very reinvigorating. If you get a chance to see Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats Live, don’t miss them.