Not having toured Australia in five or so years, OneRepublic were well overdue to grace us with the euphoric sounds of their latest album, Native. From as early as 7pm, the entry queue weaved itself around four corners from the entrance of The Palace, covering a distance of what would have surely been almost two city blocks by 7.30pm. A few passersby actually paused in their path to ask if One Direction was in town – close – but clearly it was OneRepublic that had this crowd keen to secure a spot in the front row.
Stepping up in support with her three-piece band was songstress Emma Birdsall who delivered a quality live performance. While her sometimes awkward banter in between songs could perhaps use a bit of work, it was difficult to fault her pitch and crystal clear vocals. Following the supporting act, the increasingly agitated crowd were almost instantly forgiving as they discovered their highly anticipated main act was well worth the one hour wait.
A white sheet which had concealed the stage as the crew prepped their set was soon to act almost like a projector screen, with the band members’ silhouettes emerging one by one until the crowd recognised a figure – wearing his signature hat – forming in amongst the moving shadows. The intelligent lighting directions helped build the suspense as they performed the first verse and chorus of ‘Light It Up’ before allowing the sheet to peel away to reveal the whole band, with Ryan Tedder centre stage.
Throughout the concert, the lighting mimicked that which would usually be found at an EDM concert, creating a desired, complementary atmosphere for their showcase of experimental, euphoric sounds from Native.
No sooner had the first song reached its end had the bassist Brent Kutzle got a hold of a cello and Zach Filkins ditched the guitar for a violin, to seamlessly launch into the string heavy opening of ‘Secrets’. Ryan’s first address to the crowd was to emphasise how much he loved local music venues like the Palace Theatre – which is expected to close down around mid 2014 for ‘redevelopments’.
They ensured old favourites were not forgotten, performing a version of ‘Stop and Stare’ and wheeling out a white, upright piano much to the crowd’s delight as Ryan broke into a stripped back ‘Apologize’ – less the Timbaland synths. Transitioning from these familiar chord progressions, they went on to surprise the audience with a mashup rendition of Rhianna’s ‘We Found Love’.
Despite his effortless movement across the stage, it would appear that it is at the piano where Ryan Tedder feels most at home. His fingers seem to do their own little dance across the keys as though he becomes at one with the instrument, while simultaneously diving into mesmerising vocal gymnastics. All the while he allows his witty personality to shine through, unable to help himself from beginning to tinker around with the start of the chicken dance as Brent dragged him away from the piano to move on to the next song on the set list.
Zach was also given the spotlight as all eyes were drawn to his flamenco guitar solo. His intricate fingerpicking was phenomenal and served as a fine instrumental interlude from transitions between their more commercial hits as well as a particularly memorable and energetic cover of ‘Gold Digger’.
Ryan Tedder is a born entertainer. His seemingly tireless energy levels, ongoing comical interactions with his fellow band members (distracting them from playing, sharing his hat around or offering them a chance to sing lead – willingly or otherwise), as well as his overwhelming inclusion of the audience in what become these apparent in-jokes meant for the crowd of the night only, gives the entire show an intimate, personal touch that is often lost at larger gigs.
OneRepublic’s triple threat encore, comprising of ‘Feel Again’ (of which, downloads have raised over $750,000 towards Save The Children), ‘Life In Color’ and ‘If I Lose Myself’, ended with streams of confetti snowing down upon the crowd and smiles forming all round.
You can read our interview with guitarist Zach Filkins here.
Originally published at Everguide.