Music Review: Ray LaMontagne, Manchester Apollo
Never one for a grandiose entrance, Ray LaMontagne quietly wanders onto the Manchester Apollo stage before a hushed crowd, his face half-concealed under a brimmed hat. With only his bass player/backing singer for accompaniment on this Just Passing Through tour, the mood is distinctly intimate as he opens with a stripped back version of No Other Way, a hazy serenade with echoes of Laurel Canyon.
Most of the first 30 minutes is taken from the Supernova and Ouroboros albums – records which favoured dreamy psychedelia over the folky soul of their predecessors – and consequently it feels like the performance takes a while to move out of first gear. He hits his stride about half-way in, the soaring vocal of new track Such A Simple Thing managing to sound tender and damaged at the same time.
At best, LaMontagne’s material and delivery is genuinely mesmerising – the pained howl of Burn still sounds like a man almost out of his mind with jealousy and heartbreak, while the dark dialogue of Empty evokes a quietly troubled psyche. The famously reticent singer-songwriter seems more relaxed in front of an audience than previous years, however, even trying on a little self-deprecating humour when the mention of his new record is initially met with a muted response: “One guy at the back is real happy about that.”
A candid revelation of a breakdown after the recording of God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise in 2010 feels a little like collective therapy and serves as an introduction to the positively upbeat To The Sea, suggesting happier times ahead. Set closer Trouble – one of only very few forays into his much-loved debut album – reveals the unbridled power behind those often whispered vocals, a bold and soulful roar only occasionally let loose. He’s not being allowed away so quickly, of course. Jolene – starkly beautiful and a hypnotic highlight of the evening – All The Wild Horses and Wouldn’t It Make a Lovely Photograph ensure that tonight’s crowd gets its fix until the next time he passes through this way.
The Northern Travel & Tourism Show, February 25, 2020
The Northern Travel & Tourism Show on February 25, 2020 is the perfect place to find great ideas for future leisure visits and experiences, and enjoy the amazing Monastery host venue in Manchester.
You’ll meet over 45 exhibitors from lake and river cruises, steam railway trips and stately homes and gardens to themed Beatles heritage discovery in Liverpool, and the James Herriott All Creatures Great and Small story in the Yorkshire Dales.
There will also be tours around the wonderfully restored Pugin-designed monastery building.
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