Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats bring their foot-stomping rock ’n’ soul to the Neptune Theatre.
If you haven’t seen Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats live yet, do yourself a favor and look up their live mash-up video of “S.O.B.” and “The Shape I’m In.” In this 12-minute live performance, they meld frontman Rateliff’s best song, a gospel-influenced rant, with the Band’s classic ballad.
“S.O.B.” is on Rateliff’s 2015 self-titled debut album, and the song by itself is a barnburner. But insert the mournful cry of the Band song into Rateliff’s tune, and you’ve got one of the best live moments of the year.
“Our live show is a different thing,” Rateliff said last week from his home in Denver. “There’s a lot of internal dialogue on my songs, but on the road as a band we are constantly adding to how we do these.”
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $25 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
The Night Sweats played more than 100 dates last year, including Bumbershoot, but their appearance at the Neptune tonight (Jan. 22) is their first headlining Seattle concert. They also are playing the Sasquatch! festival this May.
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The Night Sweats album is Rateliff’s commercial breakthrough, but he’s undergone a few different musical incarnations. Rateliff, 37, began performing in Missouri but moved to Denver as a teen for missionary work. His gospel influences come naturally from those early churchgoing days.
With adulthood came rock music that was more about sinning, as Rateliff struggled with personal demons. He produced a couple of well-reviewed records for indie labels before he began the song cycle that makes up the Night Sweats album.
He found his voice with songs about love, loss and longing. “I Need Never Get Old,” for example, is a discourse on desire.
“I’m trying to say, ‘I need you,’ ” he laughs, “but it is also about the hopeful struggle. All relationships are about the hopeful struggle. You love them, and you need them, but you have to be vulnerable, and it sucks, and it hurts.”
Backed by a powerful horn section, that struggle between sinning and sainthood is in every Night Sweats live show, and in the songs on the new record. Whether it’s singing live, or in the studio, Rateliff says he’s simply trying to stay emotionally open “because that makes other people feel as well.”
Rateliff says there are many similarities between the music scenes in Seattle and Denver, where he and the Lumineers have brought attention to the city the way hot bands brought national press to the Northwest in the ’80s.
“People are starting to move to Denver because it’s cool,” Rateliff said. “Basically those same people are going to get priced out just because so many people are moving here.”