Though the old guard of the Band collaborators delivered warmly talented moments, the younger Helm enthusiasts proved formidable as well. Lucinda Williams’ keening vocals on “Whispering Pines” (one of Robbie Robertson’s most beautiful songs for the Band) drew goosebumps, and Grace Potter’s effortlessly controlled soar through “I Shall Be Released” tumbled steadily toward a devastating climax of vibrato and smashing piano. Afterward, Campbell stared agape at her retreating form before marveling, “How about that?” (Potter, for her part, maintained modesty by saying succinctly, “This is one of the great pleasures of my life.”)
While set one was certainly a crowd-pleaser, set two took the whole thing to a new level. Grace Potter gave what was arguably the best solo performance of the evening, with her rendition of the “I Shall Be Released.” “This is one of the great pleasures of my life,” she said, in reference to Neil Young’s remark before “Helpless” during The Last Waltz. Potter did it all alone, taking up vocal and organ duties on the Bob Dylan classic, which felt more relevant than ever given the circumstances. The crowd soaked it all up in what seemed to be a collectively transcendental moment for everyone in the audience. As the last note faded into silence and the silence faded into applause, I half expected a thousand roses to go flying Potter’s way.
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