About midway into the show at Roadrunner Sunday night, Lake Street Dive singer Rachael Price paused to give a shout-out to the Boston music scene, and to reflect on the “small places” — Toad and the Lizard Lounge were two she mentioned — where the band started making its way 18 years ago. That Price and her bandmates were finishing up a two-night stand in one of the larger music rooms in Boston showed how far they’ve come since then. And the music they played — their heady mix of classic R&B, pop, and soul, which somehow manages to effortlessly combine fidelity and reinvention — showed why they are where they are now.
Sunday’s performance certainly had the feel of a hometown show (“It’s good to be home,” Price exclaimed after the roar that greeted the conclusion of opening song “Know That I Know”). It looked back to the band’s early Boston days musically as well, via several selections from initial label release, “Lake Street Dive.” There were also nods to Lake Street Dive favorites, including the hooky-as-hell “Bad Self Portraits” and the jumping “You Go Down Smooth,” driven by Bridget Kearney’s marvelous bass riff.
And, as usual, there were a couple of offbeat covers, this night in the form of a jagged version of the early Dionne Warwick hit “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and a take on Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time” (on which opener Devon Gilfillian joined Price to duet). But in the main, this was a showcase for Lake Street Dive’s new record, “Obviously,” which came out a little over a year ago. The band ranged through eight of the album’s 11 tracks through the course of the evening. “Hypotheticals” displayed their characteristic killer harmonies; “Lackluster Lover” brought slinky syncopated R&B, and “Nobody’s Stopping You Now” sounded even more anthemic than its recorded version. “Hush Money” was offered in a jacked-up version that featured James Cornelison’s slide guitar, while “Feels Like the Last Time” was the centerpiece of a single-mic acoustic set. ‘”Same Old News,” with keyboard player Akie Bermiss exchanging vocals with Price and showing he also has chops in that regard, made clear that Lake Street Dive has spent a little time worshipping at the Church of Hall & Oates.
In the face of a recent personnel change occasioned by founding member Mike Olson’s departure last year, the band has adapted (with Cornelison coming on board as to replace him on guitar) and remains a fearsome juggernaut live. And frontwoman Price is simply an animated force; her use of her instrument remains a wonder, and she sings with her body as much as with her voice, dancing, gesticulating, constantly in motion. To cop from one of their most popular songs, Lake Street Dive continues to go down smooth.
LAKE STREET DIVE
With Devon Gilfillian. At Roadrunner, Sunday
Stuart Munro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.