Ray LaMontagne (Memorial Stadium) – 5/28/18

On a beautiful Memorial Day evening at the ballpark, Ray skips the hits in favor of newer material.

It doesn’t get much more American than watching a folk-rock show on a Memorial Day night outside at the local ballpark, coincidentally dubbed Memorial Stadium.  After Neko Case and her band played for an hour or so, including several tracks from their just released new record, Ray and his guys came out.  A couple of things about this show: Ray sounded great, his band was on point, and he stayed on-stage right up until curfew time; and there were many disappointed folks because all of the old favorites went unheard.

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Early on, I got the sense that Ray was not going to be very chatty.  In fact, it was not until the sixth song that he acknowledged the crowd or spoke a word between numbers.  I have never been one for excessive stage banter, so this was fine by me – but some were annoyed, especially because he was not playing the songs they know and love.  In fact, throughout the night he played songs from only his most recent three albums (Supernova, Ouroboros, and Part of the Light) including eight of the nine tracks from his most recent effort that had been released just a week prior.  While he snuck the new songs in four different groups of two and surrounded them with “older” songs, there was no “Jolene”, “You Are the Best Thing”, “Trouble”, or “How Come” (my favorite).

Since his second to last album is my favorite of his, I was delighted that the second half of the set featured four songs from that psychedelic and guitar-heavy release.  The last thirty minutes of the show were actually pretty rock and roll, and I thought it was phenomenal.  We even figured out that the strange looking things behind him were in fact screens that flashed some killer light show graphics once it got dark.

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During the encore, while my friend and I were rocking out to an extended and vicious rendition of “While It Still Beats”, the people behind us told us to sit down.  Then, they were among dozens of people I heard grumbling afterwards that the show had “sucked”.  My take is that those people sucked.  It should not be shocking to hear an artist play a fair amount of their newest material – that is the general point of touring, to promote new music – and although his complete abdication of his most loved songs was a bit of a surprise, he put on a great show.

There was no booing – this is Boise after all, not Philadelphia, but only about half of the crowd was actively into the music.  It would be easy to say that we deserved better; I think Ray and his guys deserved better.  He sounded great, with that pretty yet raspy voice just as lovely as it is on his records, and they even rocked out quite a bit.  C’mon people, live a little!

Setlist:

Julia

Lavender

To the Sea

Part of the Light

Smashing

As Black As Blood Is Blue

Such a Simple Thing

Drive-In Movies

She’s the One

It’s Always Been You

Paper Man

In My Own Way

Goodbye Blue Sky

Let’s Make It Last

Hey, No Pressure

The Changing Man

While It Still Beats

Spotify playlist link:

https://open.spotify.com/user/1217400912/playlist/2CUbmFiZq66aHRDOwMI4sM?si=LHdAnhU5SzOURWIyFfvnMg