In one of the first big concerts in the area since the lockdown began, a sold-out crowd of several thousand turned out to Portland, Maine’s picturesque Thompson’s Point, along the Fore River tidal estuary to take in the sights and sounds of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, accompanied by the Marcus King Band, and singer-songwriter, Allison Russell on Friday, July 30th.

The energy in the venue was electric as fans poured in, taking advantage of the time before opener Allison Russell’s set to grab a beer (or several) and peruse the offerings of the numerous food trucks ringing the water’s edge.

Russell got the night started with a powerful performance of her brand of bluesy folk-rock infused with elements of bluegrass and country, during which she discussed a traumatic childhood that saw her dealing with an abusive adoptive father. Introducing the song, “Persephone,” Russell described the track as an homage to her first love, a teenage girlfriend who offered her refuge after she had fled her home and was living on the streets of Montreal at 15. Her set was captivating, at times emotionally heavy when reflecting on trials and tragedies past, but at other times joyful at those tragedies being in the rearview mirror.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats with the Marcus King Band and Allison Russell @ Thompson's Point (Portland, ME) on July 30, 2021

Hailing from Greenville, South Carolina, southern rock/blues act the Marcus King Band got the crowd bouncing, as they launched their set with “One Day She’s Here,” off of King’s solo album. His fiery vocal chops were on full display on this track and throughout the set, as were his blues and soul roots. Their performance went on to include fan favourite tracks like “Homesick,” “Wildflowers & Wine,” and “Rita Is Gone,” among many others and saw some exceptional musicianship from King and his cohorts, many of whom got the chance to really let loose on stage and perform solos.

Were a passerby to come upon their set, they might think they were the headliner, such was the intensity of their live performance. They closed out their set as the sun began to dip with “Goodbye Carolina,” and “The Well.” The band’s time with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats is over now, but you can still catch the Marcus King Band all fall playing across the U.S. At only 25 years old, King is surely destined to reach even greater heights.

With the sun now having dipped below the horizon and the light fading, Rateliff, accompanied by backing band The Night Sweats, took to the stage to put on one hell of a performance that was filled to the brim with hits. The band was all smiles as they launched into the track, “Shoe Boot.” After nearly 18 months devoid of live music, seeing a sold-out crowd dancing and singing along with Rateliff and his bandmates was truly a sight to behold. They did not wait to pull out several fan favourites from 2018’s Tearing at the Seams and 2015’s self-titled release including, “You Worry Me,” “Look It Here,” “Howling at Nothing,” and “A Little Honey.”

In between songs, Rateliff reflected on how wonderful it was to be playing live music again. He himself had kept busy during the pandemic, releasing his solo album And It’s Still Alright last February before a run of shows in March of 2020 was cut short. Rateliff also recorded a live record last September at the hallowed grounds of Red Rocks in Colorado, which was released just last month.

Despite the time away for both Rateliff and The Night Sweats, the band’s performance seemed effortless if also impeccably tight. The audience ate up every minute of the enthralling 90-minute set, not dwindling in size until the very end, and it was well worth the wait. After a brief moment offstage, the band emerged to unleash a high-energy, three-song encore of “Hey Mama,” “S.O.B.” and “Love Don’t.” Whatever singing and dancing the crowd had been doing earlier in the night was surpassed in the encore as the infectious energy of Rateliff and his compatriots took hold, especially during the anthemic chorus of “S.O.B.,” as the crowd belted out “Son of a bitch, buy me a drink!”

As the night’s revelry faded and fans departed, one could only hope that nights like this will not become a rarity as the pandemic wears on. On that note, if you’d like to catch Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats live, you’re in luck! They have several tour dates scheduled in August in September throughout the U.S.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats 2021 Tour Dates:

08/13 – Whitefish, MT @ Big Mountain Ranch
08/14 – Missoula, MT @ Kettlehouse Amphitheatre
08/15 – Spokane, WA @ Spokane Pavilion
08/17 – Bend, OR @ Les Schwab Amphitheatre
08/18 – Boise, ID @ Ford Idaho Center
08/20 – Park City, UT @ Deer Valley
08/21 – Grand Junction, CO @ Amphitheatre at Los Colonias Park
08/23 – 08/25 –  Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
09/22 – 09/24 – Alpharetta, GA @ Outlaw Music Festival
09/28 – Richmond, VA @ Virginia Credit Union Live
09/29 – Asheville, NC @ Rabbit Rabbit
10/01 – Franklin, TN @ First Bank Amphitheatre
10/02 – Memphis, TN @ Mempho Festival
10/09 – St. Louis, MO @ Saint Louis Music Park
10/10 – Columbus, OH @ Express Live
10/12 – Cincinnati, OH @ Icon Music Center
10/13 – Cleveland, OH @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica

When he's not out in the woods, clomping around in streams, or looking at shiny rocks, you can find our U.S. Managing Editor and contributing photographer Nathan Katsiaficas in the photo pit, covering everything from heavy metal to punk, alternative, indie, and hip-hop.