The last time Jake Gould, a.k.a. Northcote, came through town, he played a solo acoustic show at the hi-dive and, even without musical accompaniment, his songs were powerful and resonant. This time through, at the Ogden Theatre, opening for The Gaslight Anthem, he brought with him a full backup band, which elevated the music.
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Hailing from Western Canada, Northcote opened the show with "Hope the Good Things Never Die" off of its 2013 self-titled album. Gould's voice is raspy and full of character but also carries with it plenty of range. As he sang the opening lines, "There's a yellow sky out tonight, hanging over our strange new town. Well try not to take it in a bad way, If life ever gets you down," he was was reminiscent of a combination of Glen Hansard and John Mellencamp: tough and working class yet poetic and sensitive.
Before the band played "Find Our Own Way," Gould said to the audience, "This song is for anyone looking for some truth." While the line was not entirely profound, it sounded sincere and endearing - maybe because it came from a Canadian?
The set remained heavy on the self titled album but also featured songs from the 2014 EP, Invisible Diamonds, including the title track - which Gould played acoustically, with the help from opener Sammy Kay and band on backup vocals. It remains a mystery why audience members see a performer switch to acoustic guitar and decide that will be the time when they ramp up their conversations and talk even louder. In a perfect world, this would be when audience members talk quieter and become more attentive, unfortunately this was not the case as Gould attempted to shout lines like "I don't mind if we're always undiscovered and no stops to notice" over the chatter. He remained appreciative and warm throughout and didn't attempt to quiet the crowd. Gould's band returned for the last two songs "Bitter End" and "Drive me Home," burying the crowd noise and re-establishing attention.
Northcote, in any form, is cerebral and thought provoking act that "leaves it all on stage" but forces the listener to take the songs with them well into the night. While not the headliner on this night, it was the highlight of the evening.