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Rateliff comes out from the shadows

Orpheum Theatre, Boston, March 10, 2020

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

The darkly lit stage should have been no surprise given what was to come from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. There were perhaps about 20 lanterns dotting the stage with Rateliff up front and his backing octet physically well behind him and somewhat in the shadows.

So, it was left to Rateliff to carry the load, and that he did throughout the 100-minute show. He relied heavily on his brand new release, "And It's Still Alright," playing 10 songs of the disc, which came out in February.

He set the mood- and mood is most definitely the correct word - with "Tonight #2." The song softly, darkly meandered along.

That was true of most the show that was even keeled. It was not a night of highs and lows or soaring musical segments.

That's not what Rateliff and crew are about. They operate in singer/songwriter/folk territory, though there is a lot of texture and color. Rateliff's baritone stood out as did his drummer's tom toms throughout the 20 songs.

Rateliff threw a few twists into the night with a cover of John Prine's "Summer's End" with opener Courtney Marie Andrews helping out with soft, backing harmonies. He followed that with the equally soft "Oil & Lavender," with his string quartet backing him up.

Almost indicative of how the night went, the crowd only stood up at the very end of the show, which purposefully contained no encore. Rateliff afforded the sold-out audience to absorb the music and mood

Andrews opened up with a generally satisfying set. Andrews' calling card has been her vocal prowess, and nothing about that changed one iota. Her voice simply can soar, important given that Andrews was playing solo acoustic.

Andrews tended to not offer the variety of her other visits to the area, sticking to the routine of quiet moments in songs with her voice suddenly taking over. Perhaps a backing band would have fleshed out her sound a bit more.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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