Last week my choombas and I headed up to Asheville, NC on a Tuesday night to see Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats perform in Harrah’s Cherokee Center Arena. The show was exactly what I expected: Energetic, Joyous, and Professional. The venue was a pleasant surprise as well.
Nathaniel Rateliff, backed by The Night Sweats, is a musical powerhouse that can knock your socks off and drive you into movement or slow you down and ease you into reflection with the soothing comfort, like a hug from a loved one. His music is something I rarely reach for, not because it isn’t absolutely incredible, no, far from it, but because I don’t want to ruin it with burn out. Maybe I am too protective of the vibes because I have so much association with his music and my family. Regardless, his music is something I hold close to my heart.
At the core, the music comes from Nathaniel’s soul, but since the addition of The Night Sweats in 2013 the music has exploded into big, big sound with wild entertainment and joy. It was noted by the L.A. Times that the first album by the group was a “last ditch effort” at the music business for Nathaniel, but I don’t know how much truth there is to that. It kind of feels like he was born for music, but what do I know.
This was my first time at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Arena, and I had zero expectations as I have never seen pictures, nor did I know the capacity. What treat, it was like stepping back in time to the 1970’s or 1980’s. With room for only 7,200 people, the digs were intimate. While our seats where all the way in the back of the venue, I never felt far away from the band. It was awesome. The concourse of amenities was also small and beyond convenient, almost to the point of comical absurdity and fantastic.
The entire set was great, but some of the more noticeable songs that really got me excited were: Intro, I Need Never Get Old, Hey Mama, Shake, And It’s Still Alright, You Worry me, and a surprise rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark that was played with Sierra Ferrell (opening act). The concert seemed to, not peak, but space out into a righteous groove with Shake, something that I had not expected with this band. Within this moment the crowd/arena seemed to be really drawn into the stage and then swell with energy. This is something I would typically associate with a jam band like Phish or WSP and not Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, not that I am complaining. Complete set list can be found here.
If you ever get a chance to see this band, or just Nathaniel Rateliff as a solo act, then I highly recommend it. The music is loads of fun and super inviting without having to dive into or rely on anything from Pop. The sound is pure and true, the heart of a singer and songwriter fueled by the heroics of a big band.