Ray LaMontagne @ The Cathedral Sanctuary
My latest feature from GRAMMY.com, here.
May 6 marked my first time at the Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian in Los Angeles. Its grandiose gothic architecture, 80-foot vaulted ceilings and beautiful stained-glass windows provided the perfect atmosphere for a performance by the soft-spoken GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Ray LaMontagne.
Eager fans formed a line outside the entrance that stretched for two blocks. Soon enough they all streamed in to catch the opening set from indie pop act The Belle Brigade. Filled with freshman energy, the sibling duo performed "Ashes" from their recently released album Just Because, followed by "Where Not To Look For Freedom" from their 2011 self-titled debut. They unwrapped the night with ease, armed with both anthemic harmonies and a distinctly otherworldly sensibility.
The Belle Brigade were followed by the indomitable LaMontagne and his band. I experienced a case of déjà vu as I surveyed the familiar faces of his band members, which included Barbara and Ethan Gruska of the Belle Brigade. LaMontagne began his set with "Gossip In The Grain," a signature to his fans and title track to his 2008 studio album. Just hearing him sing a few notes made me wonder how many people fell in love that night.
LaMontagne took the audience on a journey that spanned his last three studio albums. The set segued into favorites from 2010's GRAMMY-winning God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise, including the airy "For The Summer" and his Song Of The Year GRAMMY-nominated "Beg Steal Or Borrow," but the focus was his latest release, Supernova, which dropped April 29. As a special treat, LaMontagne performed all 10 tracks from the album, which was produced by GRAMMY winner Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
From the country-rock vibe on "Ojai" to the acoustic rocker "Drive-In Movies," LaMontagne's flow across genres and influences felt organic. With his ever-present carriage of cool, LaMontagne transitioned from folky ballads to sexually charged bluesy R&B, bedroom eyes and rhythmic sway included.
With the turning of each song, LaMontagne held the powerful voice fans have become familiar with, no matter the change in lights, production or sound that followed. LaMontagne is surely the highlight of any evening, but on this night he was not only the centerpiece, the whole evening wrapped around him.
To catch Ray LaMontagne in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
"Gossip In The Grain" "Lavender" "She's The One" "Pick Up A Gun" "For The Summer" "No Other Way" "Supernova" "Airwaves" "Ojai" "Beg Steal Or Borrow" "Smashing" "Meg White" "Julia" "God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise"
Encore: "Drive-In Movies"