Appearing for the first time in DC in four years, Grace Potter’s date at The Anthem on Saturday went off more smoothly than the last time she was here.
Originally scheduled to appear on Jan. 21 and 22, 2016, at the 9:30 Club, her shows — both sellouts — had to be canceled due to a snowstorm. Grace did swing by, though, in June. “I don’t know what took me so long,” she said after her opening number, the title track of last year Daylight (and the namesake of her band, the Daylights).
Grace set included songs from her latest two albums, solo efforts, as well as old favorites from her time with the Nocturnals. She followed “Daylight” with a song from 2015’s Midnight, as an acoustic guitar intro preceded the powerful electric riffs of “Empty Heart.” “That’s how you do it!” Grace exclaimed. “My heart is full already.”
“Turntable,” a song from her smash 2012 album with the Nocturnals, The Lion The Beast The Beat, followed. “I call that the Ralph Macchio section of the show,” she explained. “I’ve got all my high kicks out of the way.”
Returning to last year’s album, Grace played “Love Is Love.” “We’re getting into the rhythm!” she declared, and the band launched into another track from Daylight, “Back to Me,” co-written with Katie Pearlman.
Stream Daylight by Grace Potter on Spotify:
“I don’t know how I got here,” Grace told the audience, recounting her previous visit to the nation’s capitol. Comparing The Anthem to the 9:30 Club, she remarked that it “smells better and everyone is dressed a little fancier.” She complimented the venue’s decor, mentioning the electric curtains. Riffing on the old Nickelodeon cartoon Ren & Stimpy, she sang the line “Don’t whiz on the electric curtain.”
Before hooking up with the Nocturnals, Grace was already writing songs as a teenager. “Big White Gate” appeared on her second album with her former backing, 2007’s This Is Somewhere.
Before “On My Way,” Grace led the audience in a sing-along to a snippet of “Fools Rush In.” Bookending the song, she threw in a verse of TLC’s “Waterfalls,” then introduced the band. This concert, she mentioned, was her first appearance with a horn section.
Opener Devon Gilfillian joined Grace to cover Etta James’s “I’d Rather.” “One of my favorite things about DC,” she said, “you guys really come out for music. Some places invite the truth.” She talked about how The Anthem was a safe space, which made her comfortable sharing “These songs [on Daylight that] I was not planning on putting out into the world.”
Grace played two more pieces of her solo work, “Repossession” and “Shout It Out,” then closed with a series of Nocturnals songs: “Medicine,” “Stop the Bus,” and “Nothing But the Water (I/II).” She told the story behind “Stop the Bus,” which involved her touring vehicle catching on fire outside of the 9:30 Club.
Returning for her encore, Grace solicited requests from the audience. “You’re in luck,” she said, “I’ve got just the right guitar to play that song.” “Stars” was followed the title cut from her smash 2012 album with the Nocturnals, “The Lion The Beast The Beat.” The band left after “Paris (Ooh La La),” and Grace ended with “Release.” “I didn’t know if I’d be able to play this song,” she told the crowd.
The audience went home happy, having been treated to a nearly two-hour long set from Grace. With her mix of roots rock, Memphis grooves, and some pop sheen, Grace drew a diverse audience. The band was hot, and they rocked house.
Here are some pictures of Grace Potter performing at The Anthem on Jan. 25, 2020. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.