O.A.R. at the Celebrity Theatre Last Night

The Celebrity Theatre
September 28, 2010

The Celebrity Theatre's layout and rotating stage made for a warm performance by veteran jamband O.A.R. that accommodated every seat in the house last night.

The design of the venue made the band's entrance particularly special since fans got to slap hands with the band members as they walked onto the stage, giving the beginning of the show a personal touch. O.A.R. kicked off with "City On Down." Jerry DePizzo blasted a sick sax solo during "What Is Mine," and then, aside from percussion, lead singer Marc Roberge got the room quiet for a brief rhyme. That percussion and vocals bit was utilized again during "Love and Memories."

Keyboard player Mikel Paris reached out to the crowd in front of him to sing along to "Dareh Meyod." He served as the band's hype man for the evening, having also gotten everyone to clap during "Whose Chariot." Paris played the conga drums to compliment Marc's vocals on an interesting stripped down introduction to "Black Rock," which gradually transitioned into a sexy acoustic tune. Marc and bassist Benj Gershman left the stage during Chris Culos' drum solo and reentered to kill the rest of the song.

In between "Lay Down" and "Untitled," the band took a break to make friendly banter with the crowd so they could say a welcoming hello to members of the audience, including "Mohawk guy," as Marc jokingly addressed one man in the crowd. After that they rocked "Hey Girl," the best jam session of the night, with Benj and Marc playing to each other as Jerry blew the crowd away with his amazing saxophone skills. Jerry played his heart out at the end of "52-50" to the point where he was kneeling down on the stage. Way to demonstrate dedication, DePizzo. That man's got soul.

The band introduced their often played cover of Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the Rain" by playfully admitting that the song isn't one of their own. Marc owned the whistle part of the song.

The crowd began chanting "O.A.R." for an encore as soon as the band left the stage. The group emphasized their new song "Over And Over," a melodious, well-received piano track which put the spotlight on Marc. The rest of the band joined him for the conclusion of the song.

Marc and lead guitarist Richard On played a funky guitar intro on "That Was a Crazy Game of Poker," the fan base favorite, for a big country rock finish. Marc gave the show one of many personal touches by adding in "I said what y'all doin' in the Celebrity Theatre tonight!" Marc individually invited each band member to "say goodnight to everybody" by playing some of their best riffs of the night.

The band looked like they had a great time playing for the Phoenix crowd, which reflected on their fans and made the show even more enjoyable. The band took the crowd on a journey with every jam, making every one an experience.

To the crowd's delight and mine, O.A.R. featured new intros to a few songs, including "About An Hour Ago." Not only did Marc sing all the extra verses in almost every song that the band saves just for their concerts, but he sang some fresh freestyles too. He impressively seems to improvise the new verses on the spot, sometimes with a little bit of scat peppered in between. All members of the band got to perform multiple solos throughout the set, which graciously let them all share the attention and proved that they're all about solidarity.

The only disappointments of the evening were that the venue was surprisingly half-empty and that Jerry never picked up a guitar.

Overall, there are only two ways to describe both the venue and the performance: intimate and awesome.

Critic's Notebook:

Last night: O.A.R. at the Celebrity Theatre.

Personal bias: Not gonna lie, they're my favorite band.

The crowd: College kids and people between 20 and 30 years old who appreciate a good jam.

Overheard: "I love this song so much that I want to cry." - the high school boy next to me who was at his first O.A.R. show

Set list:
City On Down
This Town
What Is Mine
Love and Memories
SpottieOttieDopaliscious (Outkast) sax riff > Dareh Meyod
About An Hour Ago (new acoustic intro)
Whose Chariot
Black Rock
Lay Down


Hey Girl

Fool in the Rain (Led Zeppelin cover)

Over And Over
Shattered (Turn the Car Around)
That Was a Crazy Game of Poker