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29 October 2014

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Ray LaMontagne
Ray LaMontagne

Ray LaMontagne @ Rescue Rooms 03/03/05

By Phill Huxley
Battling technical gremlins, the softly spoken troubadour from Maine still just about manages to triumph.

Support act Nerina Pallot hails from London, although with tracks like ‘Idaho’, she could just as easily be from the other side of the Atlantic.

“I hear you’ve been rebranded today, but I thought Nottingham was perfectly OK before!”, she says showing her local knowledge to cheers from the crowd.

Clear gift for melody

Pallot begins the set on guitar, before switching to keyboard and back again. She possesses a powerful voice, intelligent lyrics, excellent musicianship (particularly on keyboard) and a clear gift for melody.

Nerina Pallot
Nerina Pallot

Her new album ‘Fires’ is set to be released next month and tracks from that comprise much of the set, along with songs from last years ‘Dear Frustrated Superstar’ LP.

Set closer and single ‘Everybody's Gone To War’ gives a political dimension to her work, adding depth to a set that previously been a little lightweight.

Comparisons? You want comparisons? Well, how about a mixture of Tori Amos and Vanessa Carlton, with a dash of Suzanne Vega.

Troubled acoustic troubadour

Ray LaMontagne takes the stage and a hush descends on the Rescue Rooms. Bearded and flanked by a double bassist and a drummer he looks every inch the troubled, acoustic troubadour.

The opening track is a fantastic introduction to his poignant, deeply personal songwriting and rich, fragile, gravelly voice that brings to mind Van Morrison and the Buckley’s.

After the exhilarating start, things go downhill. LaMontagne seems visibly annoyed and spends an age trying to tune between songs, he’s clearly not happy with the sound.

Four or five songs in, his backing band leaves the stage and Ray has still not addressed the audience.

Technical gremlins

“Is that alright Keith?” He asks his soundman as he again tries to beat the technical gremlins. As an opening conversational gambit, it’s not likely to go down in Nottingham gig folklore, but it breaks the ice and he’s soon cracking jokes with members of the crowd about the strobe lighting.

Things begin to pick up, but he’s still not happy. “It sounds like I’m singing in to a trash can” he moans, before holding his head in his hands.

At this point the audience is beginning to lose interest and talking amongst themselves, as LaMontagne meanders through his set struggling to make himself heard. It’s not going well and Ray knows it.

Near the end of the set his backing band return and suddenly things are infused with a new urgency. ‘Forever My Friend’ lifts the gig onto a new level and the spellbinding album title track ‘Trouble’ leaves the now enraptured crowd baying for more.

Sheepishly LaMontagne returns, again apologising for the sound problems. For the encore he plays ‘How Come’ with his foil, double bassist Chris Thomas showcasing his funky talents and for a moment taking centre stage.

One more beautiful solo track 'Can I Stay?' is played to close out the evening, leaving people in no doubt that incredible talent that this singer possesses. Maybe when he returns to Nottingham next time, LaMontagne can deliver a whole set as good as the final four songs.

last updated: 05/03/05
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His lyrics are genius; filled with SO much passion.

Dave Corwin
Serena Garza is right ya' know.

Serena Garza- Houston Texas
I heard "Shelter" for the first time on a TV show back in November, as a musician and music lover I always take note of a song that catches my ear since not many do these days. After the show was over, I immediately looked at the credits for who was the singer, because I knew that I had never heard the song before. I bought the CD and after that was in love with the music and could not stop listening to it. The music industry has been a huge disappointment for the last decade, all the cliche' lyrics, and untalented people whaling on the microphone have become mind numbing. After listening to LaMontagne and his genius album, I was so greatful that the industry has finally found a new star who truly has talent, and messmerizing songs. Thank God someone with old school qualities is back. I wish Ray the best and hope that he makes it big because it would be an absolute shame if everyone did not get a chance to hear this album. It is inedeed exquisite!!

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