Nathaniel Rateliff has released a new live album, Red Rocks 2020, which documents the singer-songwriter’s September 20th, 2020 at the Morrison, CO venue in September of last year. The concert on record came as the last of a six-show run which saw Rateliff performing alongside a selection of his Night Sweats bandmates for 175 attendees at the 9,400-capacity venue for the first five concerts. For the final evening, Rateliff played to an empty venue.
The 18-track Red Rocks 2020 is a vast examination of Rateliff’s already-storied musical career. Weaving through songs he made famous with his backing band the Night Sweats alongside cuts from his solo catalog—including 2020’s And It’s Still Alright—the live album captures a small spark of the energy usually found at a Rateliff performance. The only thing missing was the audience.
Throughout the run, Rateliff was joined by Night Sweats members Joseph Pope III (bass), Mark Shusterman (keys), Patrick Meese (drums, keys, guitar), and Luke Mossman (guitar) along with James Barone (drums, guitar), Joy Adams (cello), Rachel Sliker (viola), Adrienne Short (violin), and Chris Jusell (violin). Rateliff also welcomed special guests Kevin Morby for a cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “There Is A War” as well as Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee).
Aside from the stirring performances, Red Rocks 2020 stands as a historical document. In front of diminished crowds at Red Rocks while the pandemic was still raging across the U.S. as a vaccine was still months away, Rateliff was one of countless artists who played on in the live arena in fierce opposition of the storm battering down on the entire world. While mounting a concert for a less-than-two-percent capacity crowd assuredly wasn’t the most financially lucrative decision, Rateliff delivered live music to a community that needed it more than ever. For those who weren’t able to attend Rateliff’s 2020 run in Morrison, Red Rocks 2020 provides a soundtrack to that particularly strange moment in our shared human experience.
Rateliff said of the album in a statement,
We started out 2020 very excited. The solo record was out and myself and the most of the guys in the Night Sweats were gonna hit the road to present the songs to the world. We were looking forward to performing the songs together with a string quartet and how it was going to make us a better band. We had some of our favorite song writers and friends hitting the road with us. With a grand finale at Red Rocks with Kevin Morby and Damien Jurado.
Then the world came to stand still.
The songs on ‘And It’s Still Alright’ were about finding hope in times of struggles, and now it seemed the whole world was struggling. So a few months into the Pandemic we started to wonder if there was a way to bring the show we worked so hard on to everyone. If you can’t find a light you have to create one.
Somehow, we were able to play 6 nights at Red Rocks with the full 10-piece band and the production we had created for the show. Kevin Morby and Katie Crutchfield drove out from Missouri to join us.
Five of the night had 175 people and one night we filmed to an empty amphitheater that normally holds 10,000 people.
It was beautiful to be there, even if it was 175 people. But the night we recorded this record it was heart breaking.
It was a realization that our world had changed and maybe forever. Needless to say it was a hard night to make it through. But we did it and now we are bringing it to you.
Stream Nathaniel Rateliff’s Red Rocks 2020 via the player below or on your preferred streaming platform. Along with today’s release, Rateliff has shared a video of his performance of the title track to his 2020 solo album, And It’s Still Alright.
Nathaniel Rateliff – Red Rocks 2020
Nathaniel Rateliff – “And It’s Still Alright” – Morrison, CO – 9/20/20
[Video: Nathaniel Raeliff]