November 8th, 2007 by rbanks
Shannon and I went to the Albert Hall on Monday evening to see out first bit of live music in a while. It was one of those rushed trips. I arrived home after my hour and a half commute from Cambridge, Mum took over, we sped out to the train station and just over an hour later we were in the right neighborhood knowing we’d have to head back home soon because it was a “school night”. It was one of those events that we might have considered skipping, put off by the sheer effort of getting in and out of London. Glad we didn’t.
I think I saw Ray Lamontagne on Later with Jools Holland around January. I already had his Trouble and Till The Sun Turns Black albums, which I really enjoy. The first was a gift from my Sister, the second from our friend Amy in Seattle. His live performance really struck me as “pure”, somehow. He’s really focused on the mic when he sings, and sort of crouches, singing upward into it at the more intense bits. On the back of that I booked to see him live when he came to England.
The concert didn’t disappoint. He’s clearly into the music and his band and little else. The Hall is huge, and regularly hosts big acts, but the stage was set really simply for this one, with a cloth backdrop behind the four band members, and a few simple spotlights. Not big screens.
Lamontagne is clearly not into bantering with the crowd. Other then hearing him whispering the count-ins to the songs to the other band members, he didn’t actually say anything until at least the sixth or seventh song, and even then it was a simple “Thank You”. He stood on the right-hand end of the curve created by the other musicians, looking in at them. At one point someone from the area of the crowd towards which his back always faced heckled him to turn around so they could see him properly. He ignored this and just kept going. Somehow, the focus on the music, and the quality of the band as a whole, gave them plenty of charisma, though.
The acoustics in the Albert Hall are stunning, by the way. We were right up in the circle and you could hear all the instruments really clearly. Possibly the best sounding concert I’ve ever been to. Anyway, the whole evening was a real surprise, as all the best things are, and Shannon and I came away really impressed by the quality of Lamontagne’s performance. Really recommended.
Nice duet between Lamontagne and Damien Rice here on YouTube, BTW.