The pop-rock stars returned to Grand Rapids on Tuesday, touring behind their new album, “Caves,” and regaled 6,000 or so fans with an impressive spectacle. Review, photos, set list.
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERY, SET LIST
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
Grand Rapids proved a welcoming place for pop rock’s NEEDTOBREATHE on Tuesday.
“Is this some kind of paradise we didn’t know about?” asked lead singer Bear Rinehart of the Van Andel Arena crowd during their concert.
“You guys are coming out like it’s a Saturday night … and it’s Tuesday,” he remarked, impressed with the size and warmth of the eager audience.
The singer repeatedly mentioned his appreciation for the band’s Grand Rapids fans– many of whom supported them in the early days when they played the club circuit.
In turn, Rinehart and his bandmates provided a worthy spectacle for the roughly 6,000 onlookers – a full two hours of energetic audio and visual stimulation as well as several more serene moments which allowed everyone in the house to catch their collective breath.
With their Southern rock roots glaring from the start, the players jumped into “The Cave,” the lead song from their new album, “Caves.” The large screen behind the stage alternated between live images of the artists, special effect graphics and other supportive video footage.
NEEDTOBREATHE performed five songs from the new project, with a virtuosic send-up of “Wasting Time.” Digital clock images overwhelmed the giant screen, offset by Tyler Burkum’s lead guitar lines and keyboardist Josh Lovelace’s harmonica.
For the big ending, the two made their way onto a ramp which led to a pod/stage near the arena’s center giving fans a close-up look.
The satellite stage later hosted a three-song “acoustic” set, for unplugged versions of “Everknown” (another of the new ones), “Banks” and the emotional “West Texas Wind.” Rinehart said the latter was written in the throes of COVID as a “last ditch hope or prayer” when the world felt out of control. Their vocal harmonies stood out, especially during several a cappella portions of the songs.
And there is Rinehart’s voice: His vocals are raw, throaty, sometimes quivering, carrying shades of country, blues, gospel and folk. It’s as if they come from his very soul.
There was no doubt in songs such as “Who Am I,” which marvels at an undeserving love; and the new “Fall On Me,” which featured Rinehart on the keyboard.
The lead singer toured the arena floor, mixing it up with the fans during “Brother,” perhaps completing a record number of high fives before making his way back to the stage.
In mid-set, the band had sampled some honky-tonk with “Girl Named Tennessee.” (Cover song insert: “Baba O’Reilly” from The Who.)
The band – with a 20-year performing career – went way back into its catalog for their closing “We Could Run Away,” before exiting and returning for a three-song encore.
Among them was “Dreams,” co-written with Judah Akers, lead singer of opening act Judah & The Lion. Akers came out to sing it with Rinehart, and the pair had fun together, inviting two children onto the stage ramp to show off their dance steps. The song is a salute to fans of the bands, telling them that they make dreams come true.
The concluding “Washed By The Water” was another soulful ballad led by songwriter Rinehart, performed with his players in acoustic style with more great harmonic tones.
Earlier in the evening, the alternative Judah & The Lion sprinted through its own high-energy set, with songs such as “Take A Walk” and “Over My Head.” (Surprisingly, this band includes a banjo player.)
Lead singer Akers at one point invited fans to go back to the late ’90s punk scene with a cover of “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit.
PHOTO GALLERY: NEEDTOBREATHE at Van Andel Arena
Photos by Jamie Geysbeek
SET LIST: NEEDTOBREATHE at Van Andel Arena
1. The Cave
2. State I’m In
3. Don’t Bring That Trouble
4. Let’s Stay Home Tonight
5. Drive All Night
6. Hard Love
7. Who Am I
8. Riding High
9. Wasting Time
12. West Texas Wind
13. Fall on Me
14. The Outsiders
15. Girl Named Tennessee
16. Baba O’Riley
19. We Could Run Away
20. Temporary Tears
22. Washed by the Water
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC