Monday night’s tour stop by the spirited, entertaining pair was at times an immersive experience for the audience. (Review, photo gallery)
By David Specht
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It’s not every day that an audience member is taunted at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
Then again, it’s not often that humorous singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson and Grammy-nominated singer/pianist Gavin DeGraw grace the stage of the outdoor amphitheater, as was the case on Monday when the pair stopped by in the midst of an extensive international tour.
Having experienced tremendous success through a handful of soulful pop-rock hits – “Chariot,” “I Don’t Want To Be” (the theme song for the television drama series, “One Tree Hill”) and “Follow Through,” amongst others – DeGraw is no stranger to airplay. The New York-based musician and his four-man band also are familiar with Grand Rapids, having performed at Meijer Gardens in 2012 to a sold-out crowd.
Packing a solid dozen hits into his 90-minute set, DeGraw spared little time, if any at all, between songs. When he did take time to speak to the audience, he made sure it was from the heart.
“For those of you who came out tonight, I hope you have a good time,” DeGraw said. “But if you don’t, just lie to whoever you talk to and say you did.”
NATHANSON: CHANNELING THE ‘INNER WHITNEY HOUSTON’ AND MORE
While the headlining artist was a bit non-traditional when it came to his dialogue, the audience was more than ready after the playful hour-long set of folk/rock with Nathanson. Improvising on nearly every track, the Massachusetts-based guitarist had fans singing everything from Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” to tracks from the “Grease” soundtrack, not to mention channeling the “inner Whitney Houston that I believe everyone has.”
Of course, not everyone was channeling Whitney.
“You in the orange shirt: Get off your phone,” Nathanson said as he singled out a man seated halfway up the stage-front hill. “It’s annoying to look up while I’m performing and see someone on their phone writing a memo. What, are you 11 years old?”
Naturally, the happy, sold-out crowd seemed entirely receptive to the artist’s humorous interactions and boisterous approach, which included having him wander deep into the amphitheater audience. (Indeed, Meijer Gardens staff said Nathanson spent much of the afternoon before the show just hanging out in a chair on a hillside next to the venue chatting with visitors and concertgoers.)
To close his set, Nathanson shared his most successful work to date, “Come On Get Higher,” performing the song acoustically, absent the other members of his band.
Still, the highlights of the evening clearly came during DeGraw’s renditions of “I Don’t Want To Be” and his two-song encore (“Make a Move” and “Not Over You”), though it should be noted that fans were on their feet and ecstatic during the entire performance.
GAVIN DEGRAW/MATT NATHANSON: THE LOCAL SPINS PHOTO GALLERY
Photos by Anthony Norkus
(Click on photo to enlarge gallery)
Copyright 2014, Spins on Music