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NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHT SWEATS @ Chevron Festival Gardens

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Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats @ Chevron Festival Gardens
w/ All Our Exes Live In Texas
Friday, March 3, 2017

9.5/10

On the day that they were celebrating the release of their anticipated debut album When We Fall, All Our Exes Live In Texas found themselves in front of a capacity crowd. The four women from Sydney were in high spirits as they joked about the heat, the smell of pork and backstage conversations with the headliner. It is this jovial spirit that is so at odds with their earnest folk tunes that adds to their compelling live show.

The four-part harmonies are the band’s greatest asset as they deconstructed Tame Impala’s Eventually to great affect and threw in their own tunes about conscious uncoupling in the form of Candle. Showcasing the new record was the order of the day with When The Sun Comes Up getting an airing, but it was the Elana Stone led Tell Me that was the high point. All My Exes Live In Texas joked that they got the gig due to their manager being the festival booking agent, but there is no doubt they have all the tools to open doors and hearts.

There was no shortage of denim and hats as Nathaniel Rateliff And The Night Sweats took to the stage with the palpable confidence of a band that know they have the chops. Behind Rateliff’s sizeable beard is a smooth voice that sounds like it has been ably aided by a glass of whiskey or two. I’ve Been Falling set the scene before Mark Shusterman got the crowd involved with some of the most energetic tambourine playing that has been seen in these parts on I Need Never Get Old.

Rateliff made his way to Denver for missionary work in his youth, and this is where he found his roots and started releasing music. He stood at the front of the stage and played the role of preacher as he had people punching the air as he shouted ‘one time’ or ‘two time’ before launching into a vibrant Look It Here that had punters lapping up the brass soaked soulfulness. It’s almost rude that Rateliff is able to play a tune with all the swank of Howling At Nothing only four songs into his set and still have plenty left in the arsenal.

The whole crowd bought into the energy of the band as they stamped their feet like a football crowd to accentuate the percussion as The Night Sweats worked through full band versions of older songs such as Boil And Fight or newer material like the harmony laden Parlor. Rateliff played the role of front man to perfection as he rubbed the neck of his guitar down his amplifier, wiped his brow and threw the guitar backstage for an unsuspecting roadie to catch amongst other rock star moments. His sizeable frame shuffled and danced when he wasn’t playing guitar and there was an emphatic throw of the tambourine at the end of a stirring version of Out On The Weekend, which turned out being the poor instrument’s demise.

The band’s mixture of gospel, soul and blues was triumphant on Trying So Hard Not To Know and the brass heavy, potty mouthed hit SOB. Rateliff had the whole of the crowd along for the ride whether he be asking them to yell out, punch the air, or bob down and then rise up at his command. He was equal part rock and roll beast and spiritual leader on a near perfect sweaty soul revue.

CHRIS HAVERCROFT

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