Review by Don Wilcock
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Grace Potter, the prodigal daughter, returned home last Thursday (October 29) to play the Palace Theater in Albany. Originally from Waitsfield, Vermont, she left home more than a decade ago and signed with Hollywood Records releasing five albums in 10 years. Midnight, her most recent release, is her first solo CD without her band, the Nocturnals. In her Albany concert, she gave a shout out to Albany and Troy, acknowledging early gigs here. The elephant in the room, however, was the question of whether she’d be embraced by a fan base she’s left in the lurch, at least on her new solo album.
Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Sam Cooke, the Moody Blues, and Miley Cyrus have all made drastic right or left turns in their sound that alienated their core constituency. Dylan pissed off the traditional folkies when he plugged in, Sam Cooke when he went secular, the Moody Blues when they went from blues to orchestral, and Miley Cyrus when she grew out as opposed to
up and dissed her Disney image. Grace Potter, like Miley Cyrus, has a Disney connection. Her label, Hollywood Records, releases all Disney-related product, and she sang solo on the soundtrack to Disney’s 50th animated feature, “Tangled.”
Potter’s appeal until Midnight has been her ability to bring a Joan Jett-level of rock energy to a band as thick with heavy rock texture as a bowl of New England clam chowder. Drop dead beautiful with her long blonde hair, she played up her sensuality like Madonna without resorting to a bag of tricks, and the band supplied a solid underpinning to offer a hard rock authenticity equaling that of the now long-in-the-tooth band Heart.