Five thoughts: Ray LaMontagne at the Pearl (September 16)

Ray LaMontagne, performing September 16 at the Pearl.
Photo: Denise Truscello
Jason Harris

1. This show is strange, but then, so is the entire tour. Gravelly voiced belter Ray LaMontagne is on the road in support of March album Ouroboros, which was produced by Jim James, frontman for My Morning Jacket. LaMontagne’s backing band? Three of the four others members of My Morning Jacket.

2. The concert is essentially broken into three sections. The 43-year-old LaMontagne strides onstage with no backing players to begin the evening, just the man and his acoustic guitar. This is the loveliest portion of the show, as the crooner takes on favorites “Burn,” “Jolene,” “Like Rock & Roll and Radio” and “Trouble,” each song better than the last. It makes me yearn for a full acoustic night with LaMontagne and his powerful voice.

3. In the second stretch, focused on Ouroboros, LaMontagne says making that record and touring with (most of) MMJ has been the high point of his career, and that foursome is indeed formidable as a backing band. Tom Blankenship holds the line on bass and constantly picks his spots to fill. Bo Koster lives in the world of the psychedelic, and his keyboard creates that mood often. And Patrick Hallahan paces the entire thing, drumming with purpose throughout.

4. Ouroboros, which feels like a Pink Floyd concept album, grows on you as LaMontagne and his band get deeper into it. “The Changing Man” has me flashing back to seeing Cream in its prime, which I’m too young to have actually done. “A Murmuration of Starlings” gives LaMontagne a chance to show off his crunchy guitar chops as he wields an electric with fervor.

5. The final installment of the show features the full band playing some of Lamontagne’s other well-known cuts, including the back-to-back crescendo of “Airwaves” and “Drive-In Movies.” Both are off 2014 album Supernova produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Maybe Patrick Carney will back LaMontagne on his next tour.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story reported My Morning Jacket's Carl Broemel also performed in LaMontagne's band. The Weekly regrets the error.

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