Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at First Avenue, 1/25/13

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at First Avenue, 1/25/13
Photo by Tony Nelson

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
with Langhorne Slim
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, January 25, 2013

"Guys, I did a bad thing today," announced Grace Potter halfway through her set on Friday night to the sold-out crowd at First Avenue. She was in her element: center stage, dressed to the nines in black heels and a silky top, a brilliant smile crossing her face at all times. The audience prepared for a delicious joke -- so far, Potter had kept the energy high.

"I was eating dinner with a Nocturnal," continued Potter, explaining how a couple had recognized her bandmate and told him that they were planning on attending the show that evening. "And I had my ponytail and my glasses on... and I wasn't sure if they recognized me, so I just pretended to be someone else. I feel like I was doing that modern day thing where you just stick your head into your iPad."

See Also:
Slideshow: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at First Avenue, 1/25/13
Grace Potter: I imagine a crowd of 60,000 -- even if there's only fifteen

Some audience members exchanged looks -- nobody wants to believe that Grace Potter would purposely ignore a fan. "I just wanted to let that couple know that it was me, and I'm an asshole, and I'm sorry, and I promise to never, ever do that again," concluded Potter. "I just had to get that off my chest."

Potter said it all very charmingly, and she received a few shouts of approval from the audience, and then it was back to the show and the riotous guitar riffs. But it was one of those rare, wholly unscripted moments of honesty that you hardly ever get at a high-profile concert, with a swelling First Avenue crowd proving to be as good or better as a confessional box.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at First Avenue, 1/25/13
Photo by Tony Nelson

That was it, though. Potter is an absolute professional when it comes to entertaining, and the band came out swinging -- never once slowing down or getting boring. That's a lot to ask for from a two-hour set, from both the artist and the audience, but Potter gave herself entirely to every song. She's like the ultimate rock star: a smooth voice with some rough edges, a lot of delightfully gratuitous hair flipping, and a proclivity for hard and fast guitar-driven songs that you can't help moving to. Plus, she's like, crazy hot. There's no other word -- Grace Potter is a total badass.

The whole night was magic, from start to finish. Potter and her Nocturnals explored a great range over the course of the evening, from the irresistible pop-rock groove of "Never Go Back" to the explosive "Here's to the Meantime." Potter wasn't afraid to get loud, and at a certain point, even the venerable walls of First Avenue floated away. Potter played with a relentless charisma, as though she was on a sunny Bonnaroo stage playing to thousands -- it was certainly a nice vacation from the sub-zero temps outside.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at First Avenue, 1/25/13
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at First Avenue, 1/25/13
Photos by Tony Nelson

And then, of course, there was the bombastic set closer "Paris (Ooh La La)." As if to prove that she never, ever makes a wrong move, Potter saved one of the sexiest songs in the history of sexy songs for last. There was an empty chair stashed behind the video games near the merch tables, and some girls hanging out back there appropriated it for some lap dances and dirty dancing. It was a Coyote Ugly sort of moment, and it was as glorious as it was a little weird.

Potter's four-song encore was exactly what everyone was hoping for: a slowed-down "Colors," a super-charged "The Divide" with the audience clapping the beat, a dry blues version of "Nothing But The Water," and, of course, cover of "Eye Of The Tiger," which might have been the greatest thing in the world.

Critic's Bias: Do you have a crush on Grace Potter? No? Really? No? You're lying. Everyone has a crush on Grace Potter.

The Crowd: Packed tight and adoring.

Overheard In The Crowd: "I kind of feel like I'm at a Taylor Swift concert." Also, after the opening chord of "Here's To The Meantime," the dude next to me exhaled a breathless "Wow." It was a nice little moment.

Never Go Back
Low Road
One Short Night
Here's To The Meantime
Stop The Bus
Big White Gate
Hot Summer Night
Tiny Light
The Lion The Beast The Beat
Paris (Ooh La La)
The Divide
Nothing But The Water
Eye Of The Tiger (Survivor cover) 

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