Paul Wellman

In an intimate acoustic show at the Arlington Theatre last Sunday, September 10, Ray LaMontagne wooed and wowed the audience with his poignant, original music. The singer/songwriter was in town for his Just Passing Through tour, an acoustic presentation of songs from his robust catalog. LaMontagne opened the show with “No Other Way,” from his 2014 record Supernova, before greeting the crowd. “It’s nice to see you,” he said. “Thank you for coming out. I’m very happy to be here.”

LaMontagne was uncharacteristically chatty throughout the show, revealing a thoughtful, witty personality that he tends to keep private. “I’ll let you in on a secret,” he said after playing “Beg, Steal or Borrow.” “I can’t tune my guitar worth a goddamn.” For the first five years that he performed as a solo act, he “was out of tune but carried through by anger. I’m so much mellower now.” His thoughts then turned global: “We are in such a sad time right now. People are unaware of the simple gift that is life …. I feel very fortunate to be with you and share this moment in the madness that is real life.”

After waxing philosophical, LaMontagne introduced his tour mate, bass player John Stirratt from Wilco, whose nuanced playing added ballast to LaMontagne’s guitar. The two then continued with the night’s set list, which included the aurally lush “Lavender,” a visceral rendition of “Airwaves,” and fan favorite “Sarah.”

Despite the Arlington’s large size, the nearly two-hour show felt extremely intimate. LaMontagne’s feathery voice and mesmerizing songs held listeners in a silent, serene grip. It was a night for the ages, and a reminder of Ray LaMontagne’s peerless musical brilliance.


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