I want to start this article by saying this was hands down one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time for so many different reasons. Although I’m sure my words will never do the incredible experience of the night justice, I will try my best.
It was Saturday night at the Palace Theatre in St. Paul. Although the weather was what would otherwise be described as a typical cold February night, it’s that same kind of weather that makes for the perfect night to be indoors with great music. Sure enough, it was exactly that.
The show began with Nashville based singer Devon Gilfillian. Gilfillian primarily played songs off of his recent record Black Hole Rainbow that came out just this past January. Prior to tonight, I had never heard any of Gilfillian’s music, but it took seconds for me to fall in love with him. His presence was so welcoming as he hopped out on stage and greeted the city of St. Paul with open arms and a wide smile. He proceeded by starting his set off playing his song ‘Get Out and Get It’, the first of his many optimistic and powerful songs.
Devon Gilfillian spent much of his set alternating between playing guitar and singing as well as taking moments to walk around with the mic and focus on the emotions in his singing. Towards the end of his set, Gilfillian sang his song ‘Thank Me Later’, in which he even at one point dropped to his knees from emotion. What sets him apart from so many other musicians these days is that Gilfillian doesn’t walk out putting on an act. He doesn’t pretend to be someone else or flip on a switch when he performs. He is authentically himself and makes you instantly love him for every bit of it. His smile welcomed everyone to the evening and his voice was enough to capture everyone in the entire theatre’s attention. His band was tight and they all brought something really special to St. Paul on Saturday, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what’s to come with his career.After a brief teardown time after Devon Gilfillian, the lights came down and a massive organ rang throughout the walls of the Palace. It was time for Grace Potter to make her return to the Twin Cities and all of us in attendance were ready for it. She came out all smiles waving back at us, as if she was greeting us after having been away for a long time. Her audience loved her and she loved them back just as much, and it was something Potter let you feel the moment she took the stage. She began her set with the title track off of her most recent record, Daylight. The song, which is centered around Potter’s return to music, was the perfect way for her to begin. Her voice absolutely ripped through the speakers as she screamed and sang out every bit of emotion she was telling us about with her lyrics.
Her set continued with some older hits and crowd favorites such as ‘Medicine’ and ‘Empty Heart’, both of which are high energy tunes that Potter promised to keep rolling with the whole night. She also mentioned how since she’s been back, she has just recently become a mom, and that to all the other parents out there with babysitters back home tonight, they should call them cause its gonna be a late one. The crowd hooted and hollered and danced along with Potter from the get go.
Potter then asked the crowd for requests as she went on throughout the show, asking for what songs people had been wanting to hear since she had been away. Since she couldn’t make out what the thousands of screaming audience members were saying, she proceeded by playing a mashup of a Grace Potter and the Nocturnals song ‘Low Road’ and Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. This also was accompanied by Devon Gilfillian making for a powerful and soulful duet by the two. On top of this, their friendship and respect for one another was evident to us all in attendance, as they sang both songs to one another with smiles. Their energy bounced off one another, making for a perfect combo that none of us expected but we all quickly fell in love with.
For the rest of the set, Grace Potter and her band (appropriately titled the Daylights) played a mixture of new songs off her new record like her song ‘Back to Me’ featuring Lucius, as well as some of her older favorites like ‘The Lion, The Beast, The Beat’ and ‘Paris’. Squeezed in between some of these songs, Potter made time to mention the late and great Prince, and how everytime she played in the Twin Cities, he always requested to be on her guest list with a plus six. She mentioned how she never did end up getting to meet him but felt like she had all the time in the world to do so, so losing him felt like losing someone she had known so well despite its reality. She then proceeded to play the chorus from the song ‘When Doves Cry’ before finishing up her set.
When the last song was finished, the audience roared back at Potter and the Daylights as they all stepped to the front of the stage to take a final bow. They acknowledged the love that they were given and soaked in what had to have been at least five minutes straight of screaming and cheering from the audience. We missed Potter after the past few years, and she could see how much it meant to us all to have her back. Just when it seemed like the audience couldn’t get any louder, she put her guitar back on and we knew that the night wasn’t over yet.
Potter played one final song for the evening. Shewas visibly emotional and humbled by the crowds love and support for her, especially after this being her first time back in the Twin Cities in four years. She stopped and talked to the audience for a few minutes before performing one of her songs Release off of her newest record, and arguably one of her most personal songs to date. She mentioned how a few years back she had toured with the Rolling Stones and would sing with Mick Jagger on stage every night. After that, she feared she had peaked and almost felt numb to the idea that it would get any better. She continued by saying she also ‘needed to feel forgiven and have forgiveness for other people’. The song Release was as Potter described it, the song that brought her back to music.Words will never do this show justice like being able to experience it. The pairing of Gilfillian and Potter was a match made in heaven and their chemistry and ability to break the barriers between rock, soul, and country was spectacular to hear in person. These are two phenomenal musicians with stories that everyone can relate to and feel. We can rock out to them, cry with them, or ride the line anywhere between the two. Be sure to listen to Grace Potter’s new record Daylight and to check out Devon Gilfillian and his most recent record Black Hole Rainbow. These are both great examples of music continuing to speak to our souls and make us feel the daylight amidst the everyday darkness.