Published by JB on July 18, 2015
Review: Grace Potter – Brenton Skating Plaza – Des Moines, IA – July 17, 2015
In our tiny slice of musical heaven of which we call indie (far away from those fans who still believe the Black Keys and the Foo Fighters represent something alternative) there’s a new rock and roll juggernaut we know as Grace Potter. Actually she’s not new – she’s been here for years, just like LL Cool J said. Fortunately for Grace, after bouncing around on stage with Mick Jagger while opening a set of recent Stones dates, the word is a little further out than just on our Twitter feed. Grace Potter is what we love about indie. She’s good enough to dazzle everybody who pays attention, but for now, she’s still belongs to just us.
Showing up onstage about 10 minutes before a densely packed and heat-soaked crowd began a mutiny (the wait time between the opener and Grace Potter’s set was inordinately long, clocking in at nearly an hour when 20 minutes would have been reasonable), she jumped into her instant Jagger mode. A more recent comparison dictates that she’s the onstage twin sister of Jim James – the dominating, guitar-wheeling showman leading the larger-than-life sound of My Morning Jacket. From one edge of the stage to the next they’re upon you with eyes wide open. They’re singing, flirting, smiling and carrying around the Flying V as their weapon of choice. Potter and James both punch your lights out with charm and power. Friday night was her turn and Grace Potter is now this generation’s female rock and roll torch bearer – delivering everything you’d possibly want from a headline performer: charisma, personality, talent, chords and magnetism. It’s impossible to not like her. It’s anti-American to even think of it. She’s less polarizing than a baby seal. Everyone loves her.
The initial show setlist had 29-30 songs on it, but as the delay progressed new sheets came out with 21 tracks or so. She kicked off her new tour with the first public performance of her Grace Potter-esque head-bobbing country/pop/gospel-infused singalong called ‘Empty Heart’ from the upcoming album Midnight. It was easily one of the show’s delights. From that point on it was a color-by-numbers blistering rendition of Potter’s rock and roll bliss, complete with our hero on keyboards or guitar and all over the stage with less clothing every five minutes. She’s our young Debbie Harry, our young Shirley Manson, and even at times our young Stevie Nicks – and that all says a lot. A decade from now we’ll look back at these tour dates as a slice of our own favorite moments of history, not just hers.