Blame it on the near 100-degree weather, the blazing sun, or maybe the fact that this is just the way that a Ray LaMontagne show goes, but Saturday night’s show at Jacobs Pavilion was eerily calm and subdued. The usual general admission area was filled with chairs for assigned seating, and sit the crowd did. Those who were there with a significant other nestled into each other; others flying solo or with friends sat back and took in the sights and sounds for the two-hour set of the folk crooner’s Part of the Light show.
The stage setting was simple: Screens displaying vintage TVs lit up the backdrop where psychedelic splashes of color splayed. Flecks of light danced around like confetti on the screens. The backing band was simple: Just four musicians, who almost seemed invisible in contrast to LaMontagne who took center stage.
While some artists choose to open their shows with songs off their newest album, LaMontagne opted to kick off his show with “Julia” and “Lavender” from 2014’s Supernova, which was produced by Northeast Ohio’s own Dan Auerbach.
Clad in a long-sleeved shirt, pants, combat boots and a straw hat, LaMontagne joked that every time he has come to Cleveland, it’s been extremely hot. His banter was brief and soft-spoken, saving up all of his energy for his performance.
While those in attendance were generally quiet, the audience would cheer after each song ended. “Play some old stuff!” a member of the crowd shouted at LaMontagne. But Ray was going to do the show his own way. Pulling heavily from Part of the Light, for which the tour is aptly named, the folk rocker played newer songs like “Paper Man”, “Such a Simple Thing” and the album’s namesake “Part of the Light”.
Of course, he did not forget many of his older hits and appeased many of the his long-standing fans. “A Mumuration of Starlings,” off Ouroboros, and Supernova’s “Ojai” and “She’s the One” garnered the most applause.
For the encore, the band played a hefty four-song ending with “Let’s Make It Last” and classics from Ouroboros, “Hey, No Pressure," “The Changing Man,” and finally “While It Still Beats." Although the set was absent of LaMontagne’s biggest hit, “You Are the Best Thing," the crowd didn’t seem to mind and the crooner was probably glad to be let off the hook.
Neko Case opened for LaMontagne, playing an all too short forty-minute set that included songs off of her latest album, Hell-On and classics from albums past like “Deep Red Bells” and “Hold On, Hold On."
Photos and Review by Judy Vegh