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Ray LaMontagne Live

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Apollo Manchester, 13 May 2018

It was back in 2004 that I first heard Mr LaMontagne via his wonderful debut album called TROUBLE. On hearing the first track of the album I was immediately attracted to his distinctive voice which was both gravely and smooth at the same time - very unusual.┬áThen the title song convinced me that I was listening to a rather special singer/songwriter. But it’s taken till 2018 to put live meat on the bones…This was a seated show and one that boasted a capacity audience of nearly 3,000 along with fans from almost all adult age groups.

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A young London based singer songwriter called Freya Ridings opened the show seated at her electronic keyboard and looking almost lost against a heavy dark curtain and on the Apollo’s massive stage. I knew nothing about this young lady but suspect that after witnessing her performance

I may well hear much more about her in the future. Her voice is young, fluid and sweet. Her own songs were gentle, emotional and melodic. She also performed a Hozier cover which was brave and effective but her cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Maps’ was superb. The audience showed genuine enthusiasm and gratitude with loud applause after each song - a triumph for the young Londoner. You can download her debut (and only) album from Amazon.

Setlist

Wishbone
Ultraviolet
Work Song (Hozier cover)
You Mean The World To Me
Unconditional
Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover)
Lost Without You

https://freyaridings.com/

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I don’t think I have ever seen the Apollo as full as it was, certainly not for a seated show. As the lights dimmed, the curtains were drawn to reveal a simple architecteral archway with blue, clouded sky beyond. It became clear that this was to be a solo acoustic show with a single instrumentalist alongside. With little fanfare LaMontagne and his bass guitar player appeared under the archway to the rear of the stage and began to play, accompanied by huge acclaim.

Now I don’t know whether LaMontagne has changed his voice since those early days but that gravelly sound appears to have been replaced by something altogether more fluid and gentle. In fact it was akin to a summer morning mist rolling gently over fields. In other words, beautiful. The opening songs were from earlier albums which I did not recognise but it became obvious that the setlist would would feature favourites from his most popular albums. Even his latest creation only contributed three songs to the set. It wasn’t till the fourth song that LaMontagne greeted the audience which up to that point had been a low key introduction.

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