On Friday night, Ray LaMontagne performed his second consecutive sold-out show at Town Hall in New York City. The show was in support of his just released album, Supernova, which was produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and recorded at his studio in Nashville. The 75-minute event consisted of Ray playing every song on the new album, with a few old ones mixed in. The night was an intimate affair and a special chance for us fans to hear the new songs come to life on stage.
At 9:15 PM, people were coming into the building and settling into their seats when Ray and his backing band opened up with crowd pleaser "Gossip In The Grain." The venue holds an estimated 1,500 people and when the song was over, an empty seat couldn't be found. A triple shot of new songs came next -- "Lavender," "She's The One," and "Pick Up A Gun" were played exactly as heard on the album. The songs were laid back, relaxed, and each musician on stage could be heard crisply in the performance space. Shouts of "I love you, Ray!" echoed from the audience between songs, as did song requests for "Jolene."
Throughout the night, Ray switched guitars, going from acoustic to electric. The venue's atmosphere and energy onstage was more relaxed for acoustic songs like "There's No Other Way" and "Airwaves." It was during these moments that Ray's unique voice was allowed to shine. For the most part, he's not a showman on stage, and tonight he proved he doesn't need to be. His singing carried the soft songs and his band took the reigns on the upbeat ones.
"Supernova," the lead single from the new album, received a warm round of applause as did fan favorite "Beg Steal or Borrow." During the course of the show, fans shouted out requests, and many thought the encore would be the perfect opportunity to hear one. Instead, Ray opted to close out the show with "Drive-in Movies," the closing song on the new album.
Performing new songs that fans aren't familiar with can be risky, but the setlist was mixed with just enough recognizable songs that the show didn't lag. On Supernova, the songs are very atmospheric and layered with colorful studio effects, but hearing them live at this show, they were noticeably stripped down to a more natural sound.
In the future, I'm looking forward to hearing these songs in a less formal atmosphere than Town Hall, where fans won't be sitting for the entire show. These songs can lend themselves to some lengthy jams and improvisation, but tonight wasn't for that. Instead, this performance was an opportunity for us fans to hear the new material and get an idea of the new direction Ray is heading in, both lyrically and musically.
You can listen to "Supernova" right here on Zumic, and pick up the new album on iTunes and Amazon. Ray will be out in California for two shows before starting a United States tour, including a few summer festivals. You can find further information on his Zumic artist page.