If Amy Schumer is comedy’s “It” girl for 2015, then Grace Potter deserves to have the same title bestowed upon her by the musical community. Her forthcoming album, “Midnight,” combined with the stunning, full-bodied performance she and the rest of her Magical Midnight Roadshow treated Artpark to on Tuesday night tells me so.
What began as one of the stickiest evenings of the summer was made even stickier once Potter settled into a groove that found her initializing a “Body by Grace” scenario in which getting aerobic exercise appeared to be just as important as slaying the audience with the woozy neo-blues rock they paid to hear.
Her sensuality might be what draws people in, but it’s her material that induces them to stick around.
Surrendering her entire mind, body, and soul to the music is what separates her from the pack, because she comes across as an enlightened entertainer with old-school principles whose heart is at the mercy of a digital age in which songs are no longer beloved for their spiritually regenerative qualities.
She peacocked her way across the stage in vintage Jagger fashion during the shimmering pop tracks “Never Go Back” and “Runaway,” but soon morphed into a raging classic rock lioness roaring her way through “Medicine” and “The Lion The Beast The Beat” as if they were the last songs she would ever perform.
Not even a cover of Rod Stewart’s embarrassing “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” could trip her up, because she owned it in a way that felt completely organic. Sure, the disco element is enough to make you want to lose your lunch, but the swampy slide guitar she laid down on “Nothing But the Water” earlier on made it easier to swallow.
“Stop the Bus” was easily the centerpiece of the evening with its sweltering Petty-esque eruption that saw every band member pushing themselves beyond what is normally expected. Much like what My Morning Jacket brought to Artpark the week before, Potter encouraged her cohorts to let the songs breathe and take the audience for a ride they wouldn’t be able to experience at any time other than in the moment.
If you consider three-minute ditties bathed in electronics and celebrity name-dropping to be genuine works of art, this wasn’t the show to attend. However, if you’re naturally drawn to songs that focus on the journey rather than the destination, then Potter and her retooled lineup had a spot reserved just for you. I prefer to think of it as a creamy classic rock sundae with contemporary R&B truffles that became richer and more satisfying with every bite.
Jessica Lea Mayfield warmed up the crowd using an ominous tone that evoked feelings of Nick Cave while simultaneously channeling the mid ‘90s slacker cadences of Beck. She held down the fort quite effortlessly for a 25-year-old minimalist with limited name recognition. I just wish more people had come early to experience everything she had to offer.