Ray LaMontagne at Jones Hall, 8/3/2014
Ray LaMontagne, The Belle Brigade
Photos by Jack Gorman
August 3, 2014
Many singer-songwriters talk throughout their shows, telling stories about how particular tunes were developed or tales of adventures with strange characters, but Ray LaMontagne is a different breed. To characterize him as being a man of few words simply does not fit.
Sunday night, performing at a Jones Hall packed with beautiful people, the singer-songwriter appeared very shy and chose not to speak between songs. Instead he let the depth of his lyrics and heartfelt guitar playing express his sentiments.
LaMontagne's gravelly, wispy voice blended perfectly with the playing of his bandmates, two of whom pulled double duty as opening performers the Belle Brigade. The sibling duo returned to play the drums and rhythm guitar/keyboards in LaMontagne's five-piece band. Their colleague Zachariah Hickman drew some eyes as he plucked, slapped and spun his standup bass with the flair of an experienced showman.
Throughout the set, the band members switched guitars between songs, allowing ample time for fans to scream, holler and clap. Early on the audience was seemingly entranced by the music, but gradually the concert became more upbeat with the title track of LaMontagne's most recent album, Supernova, and hit a crescendo with crowd favorite "Repo Man."
Throughout the show, LaMontagne's face remained twisted and distorted, delivering the lyrics as if from his soul. He left everything on the stage, even gasping that he needed a moment to catch his breath after hammering out "Repo Man."
"Thank you. I'm working up a sweat for you," he said. "That's what I do every single fucking night, work for you."
These were basically his only spoken words other than expressing his appreciation towards the audience. Mostly made up of young and middle-aged professionals, Sunday's crowd was very attentive and respectful, not always something that occurs with Houston concertgoers. Talking was at a minimum, and the illuminating lights of cell phones in the cavernous hall were few and far between.
It made me wonder if Houstonians have finally learned concert etiquette, or if this group was simply aware of LaMontagne's history of lashing out at people yapping at his shows. And did I mention that the audience was a very attractive group?
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