Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats @ Massey Hall

If you were to step into Massey Hall this past Friday night you’d be forgiven for thinking that you stepped into a 1950s prom dancehall. Adorned with white curtains and vintage lighting, the hallowed venue was steeped in the past with both these visual cues and the music of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

The Denver musician is very particular about his old-school vibe; there are no modern flourishes in his music whatsoever. It’s this authenticity that drives audiences wild for Rateliff’s tunes, and had them out of their seats for the entire Massey Hall set.

Opening for Rateliff was Robert Finley, a soul and blues musician with as much backstory as he has talent. Wildly gifted, Finley didn’t begin his professional performing career until just a couple of years ago at the age of 63. Since then however he’s become a sensation, touring with the likes of Dan Auerbach and releasing two well-received albums. As his fiery song says, “Age Don’t Mean a Thing”. The crowd was more than happy to hear his weathered voice tear into blues ballads.

Rateliff kept the nostalgia train a-rollin’ with his Americana vibe on full blast. With a huge ensemble that featured a brass section and an organist in addition to the standard players, he ensured that every detail hewed to the sound he’s based his band on. It was a set full of big, bold pieces like “Shoe Boot” and “I Need Never Get Old”.

He did slow down a few brief times, most notably when he took to the stage on his own to perform the acoustic “You Should’ve Seen The Other Guy”, an ode to his late father. 

One especially interesting moment was when the band dropped hit single “S.O.B”, then segued into “Trying So Hard Not to Know”, before leaving the stage for a bit. The audience then continued the “whoa-oh” hook from “S.O.B”, and upon returning for an encore the band finished that song. It was a real Rateliff sandwich! This was followed by a cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s “Atlantic City” and the night finished with the title track off the new record, Tearing at the Seams. A dose of classic sound in a historic venue – what a way to start the long weekend.

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