Maybe the coolest trick Nathaniel Rateliff pulled off on a sweltering evening was conjuring up a little bit of a rainstorm just as the band took the stage Tuesday.
The light sprinkle dropped temperatures considerably and let the sold-out Red Butte crowd ditch the unpleasant late-evening sweats and enjoy a solid performance by Rateliff and his band The Night Sweats.
Rateliff & Co. hit the stage to “You Worry Me,” the single from their latest release “Tearing at the Seams,” which, as one would expect, was featured heavily throughout the evening’s setlist. By the third song in, the swinging “Look it Here,” the crowd was jumping and clapping as Rateliff jangled a tambourine.
From there they churned through a no-nonsense string of retro-soul infused roots rock, with the influence especially evident on “Baby I Lost My Way” and “Still Out There Running,” both sounding like they could’ve been lifted from Ray Charles or Sam Cooke.
It would be easy for Rateliff’s brand of soul-infused rock to miss the mark. But where others like, say St. Paul and the Broken Bones, go for over-the-top camp, Rateliff and The Night Sweats come off as more genuine, and it feels more like an homage than appropriation.
Midway through the set, Lucius — the female duo who had opened the evening with a set featuring terrific harmonies and solid band backing — joined Rateliff to perform a pair of songs from the new album, “Babe I Know” and “Coolin’ Out.” Unfortunately, Lucius’ microphone was so low their harmonies were barely audible over the rest of the band.
Rateliff wasn’t much for crowd chit-chat. “Everybody doing OK?” he asked late in the show. “We could always go home. No big deal.” It came off as passive-aggressive, but the crowd shouted its disapproval at the idea.
From there, though, the show kicked into high gear with “Hey Mama,” followed by a scorching version of their song “Intro,” with blasting horns and the audience clapping along.
The five-song encore featured crowd favorite “S.O.B.” and Rateliff, performing in a swarm of evening bugs attracted by the stage lights, got to the line, “My heart was aching, hands are shaking, bugs are crawling all over me ... literally right now.”
They capped the evening with “Tearing at the Seams,” a slow, melancholy ballad that ends with a building refrain “They’re going to have to drag us away” — just like the audience had to be dragged away from the exhilarating evening.
Prine Cancellation • Legendary folk genius John Prine announced this week that he was cancelling eight shows on his current tour, including his July 30 appearance at Red Butte.
“In consultation with his doctors, John has been advised that he has an elevated risk for a stroke. He will have surgery this week to insert a stent which will remedy the issue. He looks forward to a full and speedy recovery,” his publicist said in a statement.
The show will be rescheduled, although a date has not been set. Tickets will be valid for the upcoming show, although refunds are also available. Stay tuned for more details.