Written and Photographed by Regan Harvey
Saturday evening at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion was unexpectedly cold and foggy for late June.
Neko Case ran on stage and addressed the audience with,
"I never thought I'd have to wear socks in Boston in the summertime!" She then kicked off the night with an energetic performance of "Man." The song is not on her early June release, Hell-On, but is still a relatively new track in her 20 year music career.
As Case and her two female guitarists headbanged in unison, her shock of orange hair and bright red pants set her apart. Case's powerful voice, theatrical performance, and charming personality quickly won the favor of the crowd. Throughout the night, Case bantered and joked with the audience about the weather and her bandmate Jeff. Before the set was even over, she received a standing ovation. The cheers only grew stronger when Case thanked everyone and told the crowd, "you bring a tear to my eye." Case ended her performance with an older track, the introspective "Hold On, Hold On."
Ray LaMontagne was a stark contrast to the conversational Neko Case.
He and his band walked on stage and with a flash of lights immediately jumped into Julia from the 2014 album Supernova. With a cowboy hat shading his eyes and little to no breaks between songs, LaMontagne had an intense focus on his music. The New England based musician played mostly tracks from his May release, Part of the Light, staying away from his older more popular hits such as "Jolene" and "You Are the Best Thing."
During more intimate folk songs, a spotlight would shine directly on LaMontagne while three panels of screens displayed colorful shifting light beams behind him, referencing his new album title. Then the stage would burst with light and sound as his full band joined him for his rock influenced tracks. The calm kaleidoscopic visuals turned into psychedelic dripping colors as the band embarked on long musical interludes and extended versions of songs. LaMontagne had no trouble belting out his louder tracks despite having a distinctively soft raspy voice.
As his set ended on "Goodbye Blue Sky," a large portion of the crowd filtered out as LaMontagne's more enthusiastic fans crowded the stage to the dismay of security and chanted his name. As he came out for his encore, LaMontagne finally addressed the crowd and introduced the band. The second set was much more personal and jam focused. It seemed as if the musician was more comfortable with a smaller, more passionate crowd. LaMontage ended the night on a lengthy track, The Changing Man/ While it Still Beats, and thanked the audience, finally removing his hat to wave it in the air as a farewell.