Two of my favorite female artists performed at the Wiltern in LA this past Friday; Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers opened up for Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Nicki Bluhm is just wrapping up a national tour, which took her and her Gramblers down the East Coast, across the South then back to their home, California. Grace Potter has been super-busy this year, with the release of her album, The Lion the Beat the Beast, for which she has been touring to support. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, Grace is the complete package; incredible songwriter, great vocalist and musician and electrifying stage presence. Her songwriting seems to come from a life experience much vaster than her 29 years should have yielded. Her ability on the keys is great and her guitar work has inspired Gibson Guitars to release a special edition Grace Potter Flying V. The energy she brings to the stage in her performance leaves the audience overdosed on adrenaline. Friday at the Wiltern was no exception.
Nicki Bluhm is supported by her band, The Gramblers (Deren Ney on Lead Guitar, Steve Adams on Bass, Mike Curry on Drums and Dave Mulligan on Rhythm Guitar) They played Keep It Loose, I’m Your Woman and Burnt from their first album, Toby’s Song, as well as Before You Loved Me, Jetplane and Kill You to Call from their most recent album, Driftwood. They also played You’re No Good, which was originally made famous by Linda Ronstadt. Nicki’s currently working on a new album at her husband, Tim’s Mission Bells Recording Studio in in San Francisco. I’m not sure when it’s due out, but keep your eyes open.
Grace Potter’s set opened up with in true Hollywood fashion with the 20th Century Fox Intro Theme. This set the stage for the title track from her new album, The Lion the Beat the Beast, followed by Nothing But the Water (part II). During this tune, Grace talked a little about the Northeast Coast, where she’s from, and the recent devastation from Hurricane Sandy. This was followed by one of my favorite tunes, Big White Gate, a soulful tune about redemption, which began with a verse of Amazing Grace. The first part of the show progressed through Mastermind, Never Go Back, Goodbye Kiss and Parachute Heart. Grace then explained that she always gets in a shitload of trouble when she goes to LA. Next up was One Short Night, a song about a girl that attracts trouble.
A lot of setlist requests had come in through her social media sources, and Grace said that she’d try and honor as many as possible; however, she wasn’t going to fulfill the request for Freebird, which she said one guy requested 37 times. She then played Apologies, and in the middle she threw in a quick verse of “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me…” This got a big roar out of the crowd. Following this was Oasis, and then a very quiet version of Falling or Flying, with just Grace and guitarist Scott Tournet on acoustic guitars. At this point the show was only at the halfway point and we’d already heard a lot of great tunes.
With no break, playing straight through, the set moved through One Heart Missing, 2:22, a real bluesy number, Stop the Bus, Nothing But the Water (part I), then the Rolling Stones’ tune, Gimme Shelter, which Grace really belted out. The set closed with Medicine, which featured all of the band members helping Matt Burr out on the drums. For the encore, we were treated to Stars, the Soundgarden tune Black Hole Sun, The Divide, and Paris.
Thus ended a really great evening of powerful music.