If you haven’t heard by now, it was really cold by the lake last night during Summerfest. I mean really cold. It was so cold that I think my honey lager had turned into a delicious slush. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but it was undoubtedly a chilly, foggy night that warmed up just a little bit when New England native singer, songwriter and musician Ray LaMontagne took the stage to an anxious crowd at the BMO Harris Pavilion.
Before LaMontagne took the stage, however, opener Foy Vance, sporting what appeared to be a legendary mustache, greeted the Milwaukee crowd as it was slowly pouring into the seats. Vance, an Irish musician, opened with the single, "Closed Hand, Full of Friends," from his 2013 full-length album, "Joy of Nothing."
During the song, he hit the first high note of the night midway through that sent shivers down my spine. It might’ve been the cold temperature, but I’m more willing to guess the power of his voice, which went on to impress more and more throughout his set.
After he wrapped up "Closed Hand, Full of Friends," he was given an acoustic guitar for his next song of the night, "Janey," which was my personal favorite of the night. After each song that followed, the crowd grew more and more receptive and enthusiastic. As each high-note pierced through, the unenthusiastic claps turned into boisterous cheers, whistles and wolf-like howls.
As he tried to move the crowd with his music, Vance attempted to get them involved by asking, "How do you feel about singing at Summerfest?" This wasn’t met with the greatest amount of enthusiasm, but people sang along anyway. He even went as far as to say, "Can I get an amen? A hallelujah?" followed by trying to get everyone in the crowd to clap their hands to a song’s rhythm.
During his performance of "Feel For Me," he asked once again, "How do you feel singing again?" The crowd didn’t seem to be really into it anymore. He probably sensed this, because he quipped, "If you’re not enjoying yourself, my name is James Blunt, not Foy Vance."
Perhaps the anxiousness for LaMontagne to come on stage was too high, but I could sense the audience getting very anxious for Vance to leave the stage towards the end of his set. This was understandable, as Vance belted out tunes for nearly an hour and fifteen minutes before telling the audience, "Brothers and sisters of Milwaukee, I’ve got one more song for you."
He closed out with the supremely beautiful song, "Guiding Light."
In between sets -- the change-over took a little over 40 minutes -- I increasingly regretted my decision to leave a sweatshirt or anything remotely warm at home. Finally, a little past 10 p.m., the colorful lights inside the Pavilion faded to black. It was time for LaMontagne.
Framed by large and hypnotic LED digital stained glass windows, LaMontagne took the stage wearing his signature hat, accompanied by assembled band members that included brother and sister duo Barbara and Ethan Duska -- who perform today on the same stage as part of their band The Bell Brigades -- Zach Hickman, who performed earlier with the opening act with a stand up bass in tow, and Dave Depper.
With an eruption of applause and cheers, LaMontagne wasted little time and started off with the title track from his 2008 album, "Gossip in the Grain." He, then, immediately moved onto "Lavender" from his fifth studio album, "Supernova." From that point, a large portion of his set consisted of songs from the album including, "Supernova," of course, "She’s The One," "Pick Up a Gun," "Airwaves," "Smashing," "Julia" and "Drive-In Movies."
Many of these songs sound different from his earlier work, because LaMontagne is going in a much different and much welcomed direction as proved with "Supernova," an album produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. The songs have a hint, if subtle and influenced, of 1960s and '70s pop rock. The majority of the songs, however, still maintain the rhythmic and raw touch for which LaMontagne is known.
After performing "She’s The One," LaMontagne, who is usually a man of very few words when he’s not pouring out his lyrical soul on stage, merely said to the crowd, "So, how are you doing?" before quickly moving onto the next tune, "For The Summer."
Each song throughout the set was performed with clear passion for the craft, and that ripped through the entire Pavilion, bringing people to their feet, especially during "Jolene" and "Trouble," both of which garnered a noisy response. LaMontagne wrapped up with the fantastic "Drive-In Movies," followed by "Hey Me, Hey Mama" as the much-expected encore.
"It’s been lovely being with you," he said at the show’s end.
From the point that LaMontagne took the stage and to the point that he stepped off, I forgot that I was freezing cold. Maybe my whole body went numb … who knows. Regardless, it was a show that most definitely won’t be topped anytime soon.
Gossip In The Grain
She’s The One
For The Summer
Pick Up A Gun
Beg, Steal, or Borrow
God Willin’ And The Creek Don’t Rise
Hey Me, Hey Mama
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Colton Dunham
Published Dec. 19, 2014
A few familiar faces have already tweeted their disapproval over Sony's decision to scrap "The Interview" because of hackers, but it was George Clooney who actively reached out to many top players within the entertainment industry "ran for the hills" when he, along with his agent Bryan Lourd, asked them to sign the petition he drafted that initially supports Sony. Now, with hardly any signatures on the petition, Clooney spoke to Deadline in a recent interview to talk about Hollywood's lack of courage.
Published Dec. 19, 2014
For a few weird shoppers, the holidays will be a little stinky. Literally. As part of a prank, Cards Against Humanity, the brand behind the amazingly fun party game to play with your equally-as-vulgar friends, sold boxes of actual bull feces on Black Friday last month. Yes, you read that correctly and yes, people actually bought a box -- 30,000 to be exact -- for $6 per box.
Published Dec. 2, 2014
This past Sunday, AMC dropped a spoiler on social media that seemingly had the same affect as an atomic bomb. A lot of fans of the hit zombie show "The Walking Dead" found out the death of a main character in a way that sometimes cannot be avoided: social media. The fans didn't find out from a few comments on Facebook or a bunch of tweets on Twitter, they found out from the official Facebook account of the show itself.
Published Dec. 1, 2014
It's that time of the year when the weather outside is certainly frightful and the chaos of the upcoming holiday is not delightful. There's no better way, however, to sit back, relax and warm up than catching a flick at UW-Milwaukee's Union Theater.
Published Nov. 13, 2014
UW-Milwaukee's Klotsche Center has banned sleeveless shirts because toned college students wearing them intimidate students who are new to college fitness.
Published Nov. 7, 2014
For fans of anything popular culture -- from comics, movies, games, television and celebrities -- Awesome Con is a place to embrace the potpourri of geeky awesomeness. The convention, which touts itself as an up-and-coming Comic-Con of sorts, was set to take place in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Center from Nov. 21-23, but faced with a set of logistical challenges, the con was cancelled this past Wednesday, just weeks away.
Published Nov. 6, 2014
I've accepted the fact that people love to hate Lena Dunham. Now, to add to this ever-so-growing list of relentlessness, you might've read this online in the past couple of days: Dunham is a sex offender. Yes, rub those eyes and read again. But, come on, is she really? Nope.
Published Nov. 3, 2014
Last spring, Martin Kaszubowski and Scott Cary graduated from UW-Milwaukee's highly regarded film program with a load of ambition. They've made the leap that most students don't dare to take immediately following college: co-writing, directing and producing a feature-length film with little to no money to back them up. Recently, they launched a Kickstarter campaign for the film, titled "Christopher Darling."
Published Oct. 31, 2014
After many rewrites, "The Surface" moved into production last summer that was made up almost entirely of a Milwaukee-based crew and a cast who have certainly seen better gigs. The film, as it turns out, is one that should sink because of its absurdly inept screenplay that could've used a few more rewrites (and by rewrites, I don't mean a few kinks to sort out. I mean an entirely new screenplay altogether).
Published Oct. 27, 2014
Milwaukee's Altered Five is a quintet that knows a few a things about the blues -- a genre that, despite its name, often makes people feel good thanks to its soulful vibe. Over the last year, the band often put a little groove to its step when treading familiar turf with its own soulful, lyrical twist, especially on its latest album, "Cryin' Mercy."