By: Jennifer Suttner
Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City was buzzing more than its usual buzz from neon signs and bars as Ray LaMontagne fans approached Delta Performance Hall at Eccles Theatre. Fans, dressed for a night on the town, flooded the elegant venue; complete with a dark, starry-sky lit ceiling. We waited, patiently and talked with people around us about how long we’d been fans and what the first song we remembered hearing of his was. A couple next to us said they’d have danced to one of his songs at their wedding if he had been around back then. Being inside Eccles Theater, It felt a bit more like waiting for a Broadway play than a concert, but everyone was excited for Ray’s “Just passing through” tour.
Then the opening act walked quietly out on stage. This boy and girl duo looked like two young, clean-cut kids who stepped out of 1993. Kasey and Clayton, a Canadian act from Saskatchewan, did not disappoint. Clayton opened the show by introducing them as cousins and announced the release of their new album while Kasey stood unassumingly next to him. Though she seemed shy at first, Kacey quickly settled in and surprised the audience with her warm, honey voice and beautiful harmonies. She rambled innocently between songs while they both played the guitar and sang their beautifully simple and unspoiled music. They reminded me of another folk duo I love, The Civil Wars. We loved them and I was personally sad to see them go when they took their bows and left the stage (but the anticipation of the headliner made up for it).
Enter Ray LaMontagne and his “friend” (as he put it) Carl Broemel. Mr. Broemel is a member of the Louisville, Kentucky band “My Morning Jacket”. The stage was set with two beautiful Persian rugs that looked like magic carpets. There was a screen in the background, flanked by columns, with a moving, cloudy sky projected on it. As he dove into his songs, it actually did feel a bit like a magic carpet ride. His music has an ethereal quality and we were drawn in as he slowly meandered through it. After the first song, he was having trouble with something that only he could hear in his feed and told the audience how much it bugged him and how hard he’s worked to meditate and still his mind and not let things get to him so much. It got a laugh. I think the entire audience could relate and we shared a moment of absolute connection with Ray in his moment of frustration. The gentleman next to me shouted, “I feel ya, Ray!” After the tech guy came out on stage and fixed whatever the problem was, Ray just kept winding through more and more beautiful songs… “Such a Simple Thing”, “Supernova”, “No Other Way”.
His cohort, Carl Broemel, was fascinating to watch as he switched from instrument to instrument. He let his whole body take over as he accompanied and sang with Ray. The two blended fantastically.
In the stillness between songs a woman yelled out, “I listen to your voice every night before I go to bed, Ray!” The entire audience burst into laughter. Clearly flustered, Ray just kept putting his hands over his face and laughing. He’d regain his composure only to lose it and start laughing again. This happened 3 or 4 times before he was able to continue with the show.
The song of the night was “Airwaves”. Ray really got into it and his sound effects of air rushing in and out of his mouth was like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It completely stirred the audience and received massive applause. In my opinion, it was phenomenal and fun and more incredible than the recorded version.
The night was fantastic, and the event was perfect. We met and heard incredible new musicians Kacey and Clayton, who took us on a ride of the Canadian West with their folky tunes. We bonded with other concert goers while sharing our stories of the music we were all there to hear and support. And we sat in appreciation of Ray Lamontagne and the music he’s created and shared with us through the years. I (and I’m sure everyone else who was there) can’t wait for the next time he’s “Just passing through”.
Be Here Now
No Other Way
Beg, Steal or Borrow
Part of the Light
Old Before Your Time
Such a Simple Thing
In My Own Way
To the Sea
Like Rock & Roll and Radio
Let’s Make It Last
All the Wild Horses