Grace Potter and the Nocturnals played a great, high-energy show Wednesday night at The Egg’s sold out Hart Theater.
Potter performed a wide range of music that moved from roots to hard rock to bluesy ballads. Potter is talented — playing guitar, keyboards and carrying the show vocally — and her comfort level on stage has made room for her to stretch further every year.
She and the band came out overplaying the first two tunes, which fortunately did not portend the rest of the night. Opening with the title track to their latest release, “The Lion The Beast The Beat,” like an ’80s plastic rock band, band members jumped and pumped their heads. Potter dramatically whipped her hair around, and the light show blared in our eyes.
“Ah Mary” came at us in the same overplayed vein, and you thought, “Is this how it’s going to be?”
Then they settled into “Apologies,” and everything was good from then on. They followed with “Treat Me Right,” Potter playing a cool Hammond B-3 organ, the bass and guitar trading between her phrases.
The Vermont native was in command at this point, so much so that she quickly lectured the crowd on getting along.
“You can sit if you want, but you can’t get mad at the person in front for standing. No arguing.”
Perhaps she says this all the time, but it felt on-the-spot.
Then came a fast-moving but steady then gentle “One Short Night,” clearly made for radio, but the good kind.
At 29, Potter is plenty rambunctious and with no shortage of energy, but she’s no longer green up there. You can feel the miles on the road and the routine of being on stage. Despite that, she worked hard and seemed to have fun most of the time.
She attacked “Here’s to the Meantime,” a song about messing with a bad guy. She can rock, which she did on this song, but toward the end it descended into a weak bar-band sound, partly her fault, partly the band’s.
While she sings about broken-hearted women, she also sings about female heroines, probably where she is best. “She’ll burn you cookies, but then she’ll burn the town,” she sang.
The rhythm section left the stage and Potter played with two acoustic guitarists — Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco — on “Ragged Company.” She can sing a ballad, and she did a nice job, but she doesn’t command the song like she does heavier stuff.
They followed with a hand-clapping, swampy “Devil’s Train,” Potter showing us yet another side of her music — this time her spiritual roots.
They followed with the slow, soulful blues of “House of the Rising Sun,” the group giving it a haunting hue. Here, Potter held everyone in her grip rather easily. During the “Divide” she played a weak guitar rhythm solo alone on stage. The crowd cheered, but they were being kind. She saved it by singing a great spiritual.
Potter is young. Maybe she’ll move into new sounds — which might mean leaving the Nocturnals — or maybe she’ll find enough room to grow inside their sound. Regardless, we’ll be seeing her for a long time.
Houndmouth, a band from Kentucky, played a strong opening set that got the crowd more than warmed up. The quartet had a cool drawl to its groove, giving a fresh take on the sounds of Bob Dylan and the Band, along with some good guitar work from Matt Myers. All four sang harmonies and switched leads, delivering different voices over similar feels.
While many of the songs felt the same, it was a good song they used to spring from.