Being a local native of Orange County, (no … not a member of the band), Irvine captured the musical ‘all of me’ at the age of 14. In addition to The Observatory‘s intimate venue in Costa Mesa and the more compact, run-down venue, Chain Reaction in Anaheim, (full of metal heads, straightedge kids, and moshers), the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine holds a special piece of my heart. Back in 2006 at Bamboozle Left, security was kind enough to pull me out of the front row, while all 5’4″ of me got trapped by larger fans, during My Chemical Romance. I lost my sandals, but that was the least of my worries when lead singer Gerard Way and I made eye-contact for a mesmerizing thirty seconds to Mars.
Tuesday night brought back all these memories while walking up the hill to find a spot on the lawn for the OneRepublic Native Summer Tour. What really got me pumped was hearing the sea of roaring fans as American Authors closed out their opening set with the catchy single, “Best Day Of My Life,” off their debut album Oh, What a Life.
How picturesque would it be to have one of your favorite bands call your ex and sing to them one of their most famous songs in front of thousands of people? Danny O’Donoghue, lead singer of the Dublin pop-rock group, The Script, did just that. He took an iPhone out of a girl’s hand who was in the front row, showed the camera to the projector screen for all to see that the phone call was connected, and sang him their hit single “Nothing”. Fans were going crazy and could not believe this was actually happening, and the call ended with everyone at the venue yelling, “Bye Jack!” To the left of the stage, a solid object of red and green lights shot perfectly vertical into the air, made a perfect right angle ending at the right of the stage, and hovered while the lights were flashing. Obviously it wasn’t a UFO… but the next best thing; a drone! Later, OneRepublic posted a video on Instagram of their new toy. Aside from the distraction of the high-tech, photograph snapping UFO, The Script literally lit up the audience while performing “For the First Time,” where each person hid behind the flames of their lighter. The Irish boys also performed “Breakeven,” “We Cry,” “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.”
Although actual seats are nice to have for the view, the lawn is the way to go, especially for the joint smokers, boys trying to pick-up the babes, and of course for friends to sing and dance together. Girls were drinking, smoking pot, and stumbling all over people’s legs and personal belongings in their superfluous club attire, and couples were holding each other, singing every word of the love songs. Needless to say, American Authors and The Script melted hearts before the twenty-minute intermission.
Abruptly, every light shut off, fans were scurrying to their spots, and the adrenaline kicked in. OneRepublic kept us waiting for a good while before opening their set with an interlude, which led to Brent Kutzle luring fans in on his beautiful black cello for “Secrets.” When I heard the cello, I instantly got over the speaker being in the way of my view. I got up from the blanket I was sitting on, dodged hundreds of colorful tarps and towels on the ground, and made my way through the maze of couples holding each other, until I was at the front of the lawn section. What a difference it made to be surrounded by people who embraced and appreciated the atmosphere and presence of the stage and music.
Like most shows, the synchronization of color changing lights and effects of the fog machine made their performance all the better. What stood out from any live performance, was how every song was performed like a story, with chapters. In between certain songs, there were unique interludes or intermissions so that the stage could be cleared and set-up accordingly for the next song. One of the intermissions included grey scale effects, and a two minute clip of an old Charlie Chaplin film. The next interlude made me feel like I was in Cancun, Mexico at a fancy restaurant on the beach, when Drew Brown entertained us with an up-tempo solo on the acoustic guitar, rapidly playing the strings and hitting the base like a drum for a solid five minutes. It made sense, because this was the same tempo as “Counting Stars,” from their newest album Native, and sure enough the crowd started clapping and jumping together when the solo led into their newest song.
Alright, time to get a little sappy. How could I not talk about lead singer Ryan Tedder, one of the sexiest men in my eyes? He started with a long intro on the piano, covering my body in chills. It was a very intimate setting, and obviously meant a lot to the couple next to me holding each other. I had to run behind them and snap a photo from behind while they watched and listened to “Apologize” from their freshman album Dreaming Out Loud. It was as if Ryan Tedder had a string, tied it to my heart, and slowly pulled me on stage. OneRepublic continued to captivate Irvine with “Preacher,” “Good Life,” “All the Right Moves,” “Stop and Stare,” “Love Runs Out,” and “If I Lose Myself,” just to name a few. The passion and energy that radiated from the show was so raw and real. Ryan Tedder told us that they were happy to be back at where it all started, when they played at Chain Reaction and venues in Orange County. “It’s crazy where we are now,” said the humble and genuine Ryan Tedder.
Purchase a CD or buy concert tickets for OneRepublic here.
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