Under a waning gibbous moon, Ray LaMontagne and his backup band issued gusts and wafts and squalls of music both ethereal and raucous Monday night at Starlight Theatre.
They performed before a crowd of about 3,200. Most sat and accorded each song the rapt attention it deserved and many seemed at least slightly familiar with whatever song they were listening to.
The bulk of the two-hour set was “Ouroboros,” the album LaMontagne released in January, which was performed in its entirety. Jim James of the rock band My Morning Jacket produced the album; LaMontagne’s backup band, the Jacket Boys, comprised three members of MMJ: bassist Tom Blankenship, drummer Patrick Hallahan and keyboardist Bo Koster.
The music on “Ouroboros” bears a few familiar vibes and influences. MMJ is one, but the heaviest are the obvious resemblances to Pink Floyd and its “Dark Side of the Moon” album. Less overt but perceptible are the winks and nods to 1970s prog-rock bands like Genesis, when Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett were still in the band.
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Before delving into “Ouroboros,” LaMontagne had some old business to attend to. He opened with a four-song solo-acoustic set, starting with “Burn,” an electric-folk song from his breakthrough “Trouble” album.
He followed with another “Trouble” track, “Jolene” (his own, not Dolly Parton’s), then “Like Rock & Roll and Radio,” during which he heaved some feisty licks on the blues harp. Then came his best-known tune, “Trouble,” a folk song dripping in soul that seems to extract some of its inspiration from a Cat Stevens song with the same title.
LaMontagne was then joined by the Jacket Boys for his foray into “Ouroboros.” Behind them, a large, glowing image of a full moon beamed gloriously. As they performed, it waxed and waned, responding, it seemed, to the music issued from the stage.
“Ouroboros” is an eight-track album split into Part I and Part II, and it’s steeped in psychedelia and other classic-rock modes that swerve and veer from one dynamic into another. Live, some tracks were extended by instrumental jams.
The opener, “Homecoming,” was a folk-rock tune with a heavy ’60s vibe, like a lost Love track, before detonating into a heavy, fuzzy, psychedelic rock instrumental, laden with keyboards. “Hey, No Pressure” opened with turbulent electronic flatulence before settling into a psychedelic blues jam built on primitive (and repetitive) chord progressions.
“The Changing Man” bounced to a rubbery bass riff before jumping into jam that recalled the Beatles’ “She’s So Heavy,” then coasting into the first obvious Pink Floyd vibe of the night. By the end of the song, the large moon behind the band was dark.
The narcoleptic “While It Still Beats” followed that. Then came “In My Own Way,” an unabashed homage to Pink Floyd (think “Us & Them”), and “Another Day,” which gently curtseys to the Zombies’ “Odessey and Oracle.”
Once they’d finished serving “Ouroboros,” LaMontagne and the band returned for a three-song encore that broke the prevailing mood. During “She’s the One,” he deployed his heaviest, growliest blues voice. Then came “Julia,” a love song cast in poppy, garage-rock hues that inspired the only clap-along of the night.
They closed with the majestic “All the Wild Horses,” a wisp of folky melancholy that evokes the Stones’ “Wild Horses” but preaches a different lesson. Clouds are its metaphor for problems, and, as the rest of the night and music so aptly expressed, once the clouds have rolled away, as most problems do, the sky is clear and the glorious moon has its way.