OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder knows fans aren't going to mouth every lyric to every song at their show, and he's OK with that. The days of fans listening to entire albums are slowly dissipating, he says backstage before the group's show in Phoenix on Sunday. Music is appreciated one single at a time. Since OneRepublic is the kind of band that often sidesteps its cardinal genre several times per album, it works. When the band formed in 2002, Tedder says, this fluid approach to their identity was a curse. Now, he calls it a blessing.
As you may recall, OneRepublic was one of the first MySpace wunderkinds, landing a second chance at fame with Timbaland's Mosley Music Group after being dropped by Columbia. The band's third studio album, Native, was released in March 2013. It came after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus and was the Colorado group's first top 10 album in the United States, even though the album sold a little less in its first week than its debut Dreaming Out Loud (2007).
The new album -- and partnership with Malibu rum -- brought the band to Phoenix, where they played nearly every track on Native, including "Love Runs Out" -- a single released in April and with 2014 re-printings of Native.
The set list, though it spanned seven years of music, didn't feel disjointed or nostalgic when hitting biggies such as "Apologize." From stacking an encore with new material to dropping their biggest hits near the middle of the show, the band didn't really follow the "save the best for last" mold most groups with canon-overshadowing hits fall into. The arrangements were seamless. The sound was big enough to fill the pavilion on verbose sing-a-longs and dialed back for the gospel-infused performance of "Preacher."
The show was simply fun. The crowd was in a good mood. Tedder proclaimed that while he watched The Script perform, he could feel it'd be a good crowd in his bones. The concert really was the right amount of sincere, engaging and interactive. It was professional without being formulaic.
OneRepublic's set led with "Light It Up," then back-to-back Waking Up favorites "Secrets" and "All the Right Moves." The first song to get that overwhelming swell of audience emotion, though, was "Stop and Stare" off the band's debut. Though one of the oldest and oft-played, it felt pretty alive. The band jammed a little; Tedder finally lost his leather jacket.
Next up was the group's "bar-closing" song "Something I Need." After an interlude, Tedder returned to the stage to play and LED-lit piano "solo" -- this term is used loosely because thousands of people immediately launched into the first verse of "Apologize" on cue. When Tedder tried to have the audience help him blend Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" in rounds the "Apologize" chorus, things didn't coordinate as well, but the moment wasn't a complete loss -- what he can do with his voice is spectacular (the encore cover of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World," too, was a treat courtesy of his pipes). Following suit, band members turned a few tricks on their respective instruments. Multi-instrumentalist Zach Filkins played some flamenco magic on looping pedal solo onstage before "Counting Stars."
Tedder isn't a typical front man, whether this is intentional or not. He doesn't outshine his band mates in his performance style, and he doesn't distract from the songs with ego. It was an interesting phenomenon.
The cellist Brent Kutzle took over the spotlight while Tedder slipped into a fedora for "Au Revoir." The group then played another Native track, "Feel Again," their benefit song for Save the Children. He joked about writing a new song the night before, then began playing Extreme's "More Than Words." This was the precursor to "Good Life," a song Tedder said was written in two hours. It had one of the biggest fan reactions of the night.
If you want a taste of OneRepublic's show, Malibu rum offered the following elixirs:
'Til the Love Rums Out 2 parts Malibu 1.5 parts cranberry juice 1.5 parts pineapple juice Build over ice. Stir and serve.
Stop & Stare Fizz 2 parts Malibu Island Spiced 1.5 parts lemon lime soda 1.5 parts cranberry juice Build over ice. Stir and serve.
Good Life Sunrise 2 parts Malibu Black 1 part orange juice Splash of grenadine Build over ice. Stir and serve.
Visit the next page for set list and Critic's Notebook.
"Light It Up" (Native) "Secrets" (Waking Up) "All the Right Moves" (Waking Up) "What You Wanted" (Native) "Stop and State" (Dreaming Out Loud) "Something I Need" (Native) "Apologize" (Shock Value/Dreaming Out Loud) "Preacher" (Native) "Come Home" (Dreaming Out Loud) "Counting Stars" (Native) "Can't Stop" (Native) "Au Revior" (Native) "Feel Again" (Native) "Good Life" (Waking Up) "I Lived" (Native)
Encore: "Love Runs Out" (Native, 2014 reissue) "Wonderful World" (Sam Cooke cover) "If I Lose Myself" (Native)
Last Night: OneRepublic with The Script and American Authors at Ak-Chin Pavilion
Personal bias: I'm Swiss about OneRepublic. However, if I had any bias before seeing them live for the first time last night, it would have leaned toward their acoustic and live sessions documented on YouTube. Also, I don't change the station when "Counting Stars" comes on. And, once, I accidentally called the song "Counting Crows."
The Crowd: We passed a Tesla in the parking lot but also a lot of crop-topped teens.
Overheard: "Get that girl a hair tie." -- someone who was standing behind a very long-haired flip-happy woman. Also: A few people accidentally calling the band "One Direction," though mostly I heard verbatim sing-a-longs.
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