I’ve had the absolutely pleasure of watching Nathaniel Rateliff’s career shift over the years. I knew the first time I saw him that he had something special and it didn’t take long for the rest of the world to catch on. He went from playing small clubs like The Turf Club to playing a packed Surly Festival Field and I was there the whole time just admiring Nathaniel’s talent and clear passion for his music. This all came full circle last night as I watched him perform at The State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. It was a stripped down version of what he has become over the years but also a throwback to those first couple of times where I was able to catch him live. What I’m trying to say is that it was absolutely perfect and if I could witness that man on stage night after night, I would.
Courtney Marie Andrews was the sole opener on the show and was the absolute perfect fit for the night. Honestly adding anyone else would have been a mistake. Courtney is a powerhouse of a vocalist. Her voice is smooth when it needs to be and has a edge where it fits. With a little bit of a southern twang in her words, Courtney whisked the audience away from the stress of day to life within the first song. Although she seemed almost shy in between songs at first, her music did majority of the talking for her and it spoke louder than words. From songs about heartbreak to falling in love all the way to the house she owned in Washington state, it was impossible to not fall in love with this beautiful songstress. Courtney has a new album coming out soon and I expect big things from it. She will be back in town for the Basillica Block Party and I strongly urge you to check her out if you plan on going to the annual event.
Wednesday night’s set seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye. The set started and I had the best of intentions of keeping track of what songs were played but within the first three songs I had already thrown that plan to the wind and let myself get lost in the music. From full band tracks that came complete with an overly talented string section (that also doubled as an auxillary percussion section and even backup vocalists at times) to just Nathaniel alone on stage with just a microphone and his guitar, every song changed the vibe in the room. From happy to sad, exciting to calming, the mood in the room was constantly changing but the admiration felt for the musicians on stage never went away. Nathaniel and his band did a great job of playing new and old songs and solo and full-band tracks. Sure, I didn’t hear all of the songs that I wanted to hear but I got to hear some songs that I never thought I would experience live and that made up for the missing songs that I have seen time and time and again.
Regardless of what type of music you typically listen to, Nathaniel Rateliff is for you. From southern twang porch songs to more rocking almost rockabilly bluesy riffs, there really is a little something for everyone in his music and that’s why I fell in love with this man the first time I stumbled into one of his shows. Beyond the music is his personality. Although he has clearly hit superstar status, between songs he comes off as very shy and (self-admittedly) awkward. Like I mentioned, this is a guy that, even with fame, never seems to change and that’s what keeps me coming back time after time to see him. Although I’ve seen him on some of the bigger stages in town, he never stops feeling like that brilliang guitarist and vocalist that I saw back in the day in the small clubs in town surrounded by just a handful of strangers.
The first time I saw Nathaniel perform, I got a vibe that this guy was going to be huge but I don’t think I ever imagined he would reach the level he did. It just goes to prove that hard work, a fire in your belly, and an unfaltering passion will take you amazing places.