OneRepublic w/ Fitz and the Tantrums @ Rogers Arena 21/8/17
Lately it seems like the radio is playing the exact same songs over and over again—well, maybe not lately. Maybe it’s always been like that. But there is no denying that the airwaves love this feel-good pop wave, even if not every listener does. American pop rock band OneRepublic stopped by Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Monday night (Aug 21) for their 2017 Honda Civic Tour, bringing a setlist of relentless Top 40 hits and frontman Ryan Tedder’s star power.
If you weren’t a major OneRepublic fan before going to the show, you might have thought you knew three or four of their songs. But chances are that by the sixth track of the evening, you realized you knew them all. Opening the evening with “Stop and Stare”, the group was not short on energy. While their amazing stage setting—a giant triangle of lights, mirrored playback screens and grandiosity—was larger than life, the audience love was not. A show like this is odd to witness. It should be mentioned that musically, the show was just fine. The band seemed to be having fun, they had great energy and they could play their instruments—the presence of a string section in pop bands today cannot be overlooked, and it was great to hear. The reason why OneRepublic was a weird show was because despite their unstoppable radio play and Top 40 community prominence, they still were not able to pack an arena—in fact, it wasn’t even close to being full. Rows and rows of empty seats put a damper on the moods of those actually at the show, and the performance lacked a genuine element of excitement and creativity.
From “Secrets” to “Good Life” and “Wherever I Go”, the group had the fans they had managed to draw to Rogers singing along dutifully. The group in many ways is akin to gospel rock group Switchfoot—their style, both fashion-wise and musical, parallels the California group almost eerily. But the nearly immediate success of OneRepublic following the release of “Apologize” and Tedder’s stance as the pop whisperer put the group on a grand scale that they can only eventually slip down from. Apart from his work with OneRepublic, Tedder is a songwriter and record producer, having written songs for the likes of many including Adele, One Direction, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson. He seems to love this role in the background, pumping out hits. At the show on Monday Tedder chose to sing three songs he had written for other musicians: “Halo” by Beyoncé, “Happier” by Ed Sheeran and “Rumour Has It” by Adele. The latter was an especially fun portion of the night, with a special backup singer coming out on stage and giving the show an extra burst of dance and soul.
Tedder was especially great to watch at the piano, although he ran into some voice cracking issues on more than one occasion. The group’s foray into “All the Right Moves”, a beautiful Spanish guitar medley interlude and “Apologize” had some decent crowd reception. Closing out with “Love Runs Out”, the group seemed happy with their show, while the crowd seemed pretty ‘meh’ about it. Given the literal back to back radio play of Tedder and OneRepublic pop tracks, it appears that these guys are here to stay for at least the immediate future. But eventually one falls off the charts. We’ll see if OneRepublic has all the right moves to prove they have staying power.