Ray LaMontagne and his backing band the Pariah Dogs came together Tuesday(May 31) at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield in front of a sold-out crowd under a beautiful, cloudless sky.
In an almost reluctant stage presence, LaMontagne remained draped behind heavy mood lighting, silent song transitions and little crowd interaction. The crowd, however, didn't seem put off by the lack of fanfare; it was the music they had come to see. LaMontagne is one of few artists who has the ability to remain distant from the audience yet still deliver a show that leave fans feeling powerfully connected.
LaMontagne seemed to enter a serious meditative trance as he kicked off the show with "Like Rock 'n Roll 'n Radio" from the Pariah Dogs album "God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise," which debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 chart last year. The main set was primarily composed of tracks off this latest album, including "For the Summer," a lively and well-received "Beg Steal or Borrow," and "Repo Man," which performed alongside supporting act the Secret Sisters.
The band got an especially rousing rumble of applause each time LaMontagne belted out the salty chorus on the appropriately chosen "New York City's Killing Me." While LaMontagne stayed reclusive by swaying steadily while strumming on an acoustic guitar, he did sate the audience during "Devil in the Jukebox" and again with set closer "Henry Nearly Killed Me" with a short showcase of smooth harmonica on each.
LaMontagne didn't keep any of his best-known songs for last, sprinkling crowd favorites "Shelter," "Trouble" and "Jolene" in throughout the night. Each song of the set a true indulgence, LaMontagne ended the performance with a quick thank you. Keeping with the mystery that is Ray, he stayed off stage for a solid period of time before heading back on for the encore. "Three More Days" and "All the Wild Horses" were surprising but still pleasing choice of songs for the encore set.
With Ray and the Pariah Dogs treating all songs like special solo performances created just for the fans in attendance, it's no surprise that the group sold out this show -- and it's a safe bet that they'll continue to do so on future tours.
Here is the set list from Tuesday's performance:
Rock n Roll and Radio
Hold You In My Arms
For the Summer
Beg Steal or Borrow
Devil in the Jukebox
Are We Really Through
New York City's Killing Me
God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise
Old Before Your Time
Henry Nearly Killed Me
Three More Days
All the Wild Horses