As one gets older, the opportunity to visit home begins to take on a bit of a different meaning. Life quickly flashes by, and with each pass through the old familiar haunts, you notice something else has changed. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s you that has changed.
Ray LaMontagne, although not a native Mainer, calls this state home. He arrived in the Lewiston area as a young adult, and made a name for himself playing shows at various local venues before recording his debut album Trouble in 2004. The recording was was subsequently picked up by RCA, becoming a major hit and, eventually, an RIAA gold-certified record. Over the course of the next 10 years, his popularity grew exponentially through exposure on radio and television combined with extensive touring and festival performances. This past Tuesday evening, Mr. Lamontagne returned to Maine, the place where it all began, to kick off his tour in support of his latest RCA release Supernova.
The Cumberland County Civic Center (CCCC) is the largest venue in the largest city in Maine. The building appeared to be nearly filled to capacity for this Tuesday night show. The prideful crowd made sure to let their hometown hero know how pleased they were to have him, showering Mr. LaMontagne with a multitude of hoots, hollers, and cries of “we love you Ray!” from every corner of the arena. After opening his set with the title track from his 2008 release GossipintheGrain, he responded in kind, letting his adoring audience know that there was no place he’d rather be to begin a tour.
Lamontagne and his four-piece touring band continued to paint the Civic Center with soothing waves of intricately textured sound for the remainder of the evening. The band, talented and incredibly well-rehearsed, created an expressive and emotive wall of sound with their play; but perhaps the most enjoyable portion of the evening came when the band took a breather, leaving only LaMontagne and his bassist on stage to perform a handful of his older tunes. In the most candid and sincere moments of the evening, he informed the crowd that some of these songs, having been with him for quite some time, were like old friends. After performing fan-favorite “Jolene”, he went in to a tune that, as he explained, has been very good to him, “Trouble”, pausing first to provide the Maine-centered backstory on the writing of the song.
LaMontagne welcomed his band back to the stage to close out his set with several more tunes, finishing with the closing track of Supernova, “Drive-In Movies”. After several minutes of thunderous standing ovation, LaMontagne and his band returned to the stage to grace the adoring, hometown crowd with a two-song encore to close out the evening, finishing with the crowd-pleasing “Hey Me, Hey Mama”.
Ray LaMontagne is a tremendous vocal talent. His raspy yet soothing voice is unique and resonates deep within a listener’s’ soul. His band is also very well-practiced. That being said, throughout the two hours of music, he and the band colored between the lines on nearly every tune. This wasn’t necessarily to the detriment of the show, but with such talented musicians surrounding him, it would have been nice to see them step outside the box and give a little something extra to some of the songs. It is also worth noting that, to the dismay of some in attendance, Supernova was performed in its entirety, albeit out of order and evenly dispersed throughout the set.
Ray LaMontagne makes some seriously soulful and mellow music. It’s the type of stuff that makes you want to get real close to someone you care about, and it’s certain that many in attendance went home to do exactly that. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with soulful and mellow, it doesn’t necessarily translate to the most exciting live experience. For those who are big fans, seeing these tunes performed live is a treat. For a casual listener, two hours of soft and sweet without much change of pace can become a bit repetitive.
As the crowd, a mixture of couples of all ages, shuffled out of the arena there were many satisfied smiles disappearing into the evening. Catch Ray LaMontagne and his band on the Supernova tour, which continues for the remainder of the summer in cities nationwide.
Visit Ray LaMontagne’s facebook page here, or check out his website for merchandise and ticket info.
Jun 01 – Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center (w/Jason Isbell & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jason Isbell – Canandaigua, NY
Jun 03 – Toyota Presents Oakdale (w/Jason Isbell & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jason Isbell – Wallingford, CT
Jun 04 – Merriweather Post Pavilion (w/Jason Isbell & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jason Isbell – Columbia, MD
Jun 06 – Stage AE (w/The Belle Brigade) – Pittsburgh, PA
Jun 07 – Susquehanna Bank Center (w/Jason Isbell & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jason Isbell – Camden, NJ
Jun 08 – Massey Hall (w/The Belle Brigade) – Toronto, Canada
Jun 09 – Massey Hall (w/The Belle Brigade) – Toronto, Canada
Jun 11 – Jacobs Pavilion @ Nautica (w/The Belle Brigade) – Cleveland, OH
Jun 13 – The Lawn @ White River (w/The Belle Brigade) – Indianapolis, IN
Jun 14 – PNC Pavilion @ Riverbend Music Center (w/The Belle Brigade) – Cincinnati, OH
Jun 15 – Meadow Brook (w/The Belle Brigade) – Detroit, MI
Jun 17 – Civic Center Theatre (w/The Belle Brigade) – Peoria, IL
Jun 18 – Fox Theatre (w/Hamilton Leithauser & The Belle Brigade) – St Louis, MO
Jun 20 – Pinewood Bowl Amphitheatre (w/Hamilton Leithauser & The Belle Brigade) – Lincoln, NE
Jun 22 – Telluride Bluegrass Festival – Telluride, CO
Jun 24 – Starlight Amphitheatre (w/Hamilton Leithauser & The Belle Brigade) – Kansas City, MO
Jun 25 – Summerfest – Milwaukee, WI
Jun 27 – FirstMerit Bank Pavilion (w/Hamilton Leithauser & The Belle Brigade) – Chicago, IL
Jun 28 – Northrop (w/Hamilton Leithauser & The Belle Brigade) w/ Hamilton Leithauser, Belle Brigade – Minneapolis, MN
Jul 10 – Ruth Eckerd Hall (w/Jenny Lewis & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jenny Lewis – Clearwater, FL
Jul 11 – BOB CARR Performing Arts Center (w/Jenny Lewis & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jenny Lewis – Orlando, FL
Jul 12 – Fillmore (w/Jenny Lewis & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jenny Lewis – Miami, FL
Jul 15 – Florida Theatre (w/Jenny Lewis & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jenny Lewis – Jacksonville, FL
Jul 16 – North Charleston PAC (w/Jenny Lewis & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jenny Lewis – Charleston, SC
Jul 18 – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (w/Jenny Lewis & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jenny Lewis – Alpharetta, GA
Jul 19 – BJCC Concert Hall (w/Jenny Lewis & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jenny Lewis – Birmingham, AL
Jul 20 – Forecastle Festival – Louisville, KY
Jul 22 – Kresge Auditorium (w/Jenny Lewis & The Belle Brigade) w/ Jenny Lewis – Interlochen, MI
Jul 23 – Meijer Gardens (w/Jenny Lewis & The Belle Brigade) – SOLD OUT – w/ Jenny Lewis – Grand Rapids, MI
Jul 25 – The Woods at Fontanel (w/The Belle Brigade) – Nashville, TN
Jul 26 – The Red Hat Amphitheater (w/The Belle Brigade) – Raleigh, NC
Jul 27 – Floydfest – Floyd, VA
Jul 29 – Tennessee Theatre (w/The Belle Brigade) – SOLD OUT – Knoxville, TN
Jul 30 – Orpheum (w/The Belle Brigade) – Memphis, TN
Aug 01 – Long Center (w/The Belle Brigade) – SOLD OUT – Austin, TX
Aug 02 – Music Hall At Fair Park (w/The Belle Brigade) – Dallas, TX
Aug 03 – Jones Hall (w/The Belle Brigade) – SOLD OUT – Houston, TX
Aug 05 – The Downs of Santa Fe (w/The Belle Brigade) – Santa Fe, NM
Aug 07 – Red Rocks (w/The Belle Brigade) – Morrison, CO
Aug 08 – Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre (w/The Belle Brigade) – SOLD OUT – Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 10 – Outside Lands – San Francisco, CA
Aug 12 – Edgefield (w/The Belle Brigade) – SOLD OUT – Troutdale, OR
Aug 13 – Marymoor Park (w/The Belle Brigade) – Seattle, WA
Aug 15 – Festival at Sandpoint w/ Belle Brigade – Sandpoint, ID
Aug 23 – Greenbelt Harvest Picnic – Dundas, Canada