By Renae Brabham
Grace sat on a step outside of the stage door and when Devon came on I saw her little heart face peering out behind the guitar racks to watch him perform. It was awesome.
When I got a message that Grace Potter was coming to Charleston Music Hall back in October I was on a job and fumbled with my phone to hurry up and get good seats. I didn’t snag pre-sale tickets but there’s really not a bad seat in the house.
Our night began with appetizers and blood orange margaritas at Coast Bar & Grill. We chose the community table which is not my husband’s favorite thing to do but he resigned himself and headed for the restroom. By the time he got back we had new friends. The couple in front of us had traveled from Pawleys Island to see the show as well. They have followed Grace around for a decade from her days with the Nocturnals and had even seen her perform on a cruise to Spain. Their phones were full of photos with her and they rubbed it in jokingly that they were VIP tonight — and we were not.
At one point they checked their watches and made preparations to leave. I asked if it was time to go and the guy said, “No, you have a while yet. It’s time for us though, we have VIP privileges.” My husband and I finished our meal and got a big kick out of finding them standing in a line directly beside us separated only by a concrete divider. It was our turn to rib them for the next ten minutes until staff ushered them in for their meet-and-greet with the singer.
Devon Gilfillian started the show. He projected a soulful, powerful presence and I loved the song “Unchained” from his debut album, "Black Hole Rainbow." I peered down 20 feet and found our new friends. We waved and laughed at each other.
What their privilege package lacked was the behind-the-scenes action from the balcony stage-side advantage. While the lights were low we watched Grace as she sat on a step outside of the stage door. When Devon came on I saw her little heart face peering out behind the guitar racks to watch him perform. It was awesome.
The band members comprising of two guys and two girls came out — this proves I’m a fan and not a music reviewer — but I think she called them “The Daylights.” The back light came on with the beam of sunlight, which is her totem for the “Daylight” album and tour. Grace came onstage to a warm Charleston welcome and got right down to business with the title track. "Daylight" is a dark bluesy song at first and then the tempo builds and she headbangs her way in a frenzy to the daylight at the end. It sums up where you feel like she's been for the past few years while on hiatus from performing.
I am telling you she brought down the house. Grace melded old with new and she was surprised to hear the crowd singing her “new shit,” as she described it. I normally find that when I get an album, there are three or four songs I like on it. Not this one! I like all them all. I have a least favorite, but I don’t have a CD in my collection where I love this many tracks.
Grace HAD to do this album — it's obvious. Artists have to break through pain to heal. When she realized her chains had fallen off about ten minutes into the show, she let loose. I saw Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jet, Heart and Patsy Cline all rolled up in one in this guitar-shredding, piano-playing, tambourine-dancing ball of energy. I told my husband I experienced two energy-induced hot flashes during her performance.
She's headed to Florida next before making her way back to Atlanta followed by others stops on the tour. Don’t miss her if you can help it. I promise you'll be entertained.