Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats brought their vintage rock and neo-soul show to the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans on May 3rd and 4th for a pair of spectacular double bill shows that coincided with the second weekend of city’s famed Jazz Fest. Each night featured a different group of legendary Crescent City musicians opening the show. Friday night featured the Foundations of Funk while Saturday's show started with the esteemed Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats wasted no time in getting the crowd up and dancing. Both their shows kicked off with “Shoe Boot” from their 2018 release “Tearing at the Seams” on the Stax label. The Denver based quintet proved why they are perennial festival circuit favorites. Playing over 200 shows a year on worldwide tours will undoubtedly take its toll in various forms, but it will also produce results that were evident both on stage and in song. The band is clearly hitting on all cylinders and the more collaborative efforts in writing and recording “Tearing at the Seams” seems to have paid dividends on record and on stage.
The bands highly energetic performance and overall soulful sound combined with Rateliff’s soothing vocals that lend itself to his interpersonal style of songwriting, have endeared them to an ever-growing legion of fans. When you mix in Otis Redding to Van Morrison influences and combine that with The Night Sweats driving rhythm and horn sections, the result is one of the most soulful and exciting bands that has deservedly garnished worldwide attention. Also endearing to fans is the band's commitment to social issues. From Rateliff’s own Marigold Project to multiple Farm Aid performances that enable this extremely hard-working band to capitalize on their success by giving back to those in need. The Night Sweats are Joseph Pope III on bass, Mark Shusterman on keys, Patrick Meese on drums, Luke Mossman on guitar. Andy Wild on tenor saxophone with Scott Frock on trumpet and Jeff Dazy on alto sax.
The Foundations of Funk kicked off the Friday night show with an hour-long set. The lineup consisted of The Meters’ rhythm section of Joseph "Ziggy" Modeliste on drums and George Porter Jr. on bass along with special guests Ivan Neville on keyboards. Dumstaphunk’s Tony Hall joined hometown hero Anders Osborne on guitar, rounding out the quintet. Modeliste and Porter Jr’s work with The Meters is often credited as the innovators of the New Orleans funk sound.
The Preservation Hall Jazz band featured on the Night Sweats 2017 “Live From Red Rocks” fired the crowd up on night two of the festivities.
The PHJB has dedicated itself for over 50 years in preserving and performing the cultural mix that is New Orleans. The recently renovated Saenger Theatre with it Greek and Roman statues and an utterly spectacular replica of the Florence sky at night complete with twinkling stars proved to be a reminder of the history of the Big Easy and its resolve after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Seeing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band grace the stage of the Saeger that was once submerged in over a foot of Katrina’s floodwaters, was proof how far the city has come and that the (Florentine) sky is the limit.