Gavin DeGraw and Matt Nathanson launched their co-headlining tour in June. Spanning both the United States and Canada, they were only halfway through their dates when they landed in Toronto. They brought Mary Lambert along for their July 16th date at the Sound Academy, who opened the show with her quirky personality and powerful singing voice that gave me goosebumps. Mary Lambert, who wrote the chorus for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ hit “Same Love”, has seen an explosion in popularity since being involved with the hip hop duo. Her voice is strong, but not just because she’s a talented singer; Mary Lambert is the kind of artist we need to see more of. Her performance was punctuated by talking to the audience, including discussion surrounding her body positive stance that she wrote and then performed a poem about. She is outspoken about the need to be more accepting of ourselves and of everyone around you despite the differences between us, and she radiates an energy that lets you see her outwardly loveable personality. Though her set was short, her songs were endearing and sweet. Lambert closed the set with a new song “Secrets” which was a lively and upbeat finish to an emotional and touching set.
Gavin DeGraw was the first headliner up, launching straight into Leading Man from his new album Make A Move. The high energy had the crowd up and dancing straight away, and definitely had the crowd swooning for DeGraw who was impeccably dressed, charming and dancing his way across the stage. Mid set he made the room visibly explode when he played Best I Ever Had, the leading single from his new album which has been radio heavy for months now. Despite having a new album he was touring for, he had all his old hits on the set list, including Chariot and I’m in Love With A Girl. When he broke out I Don’t Want to Be (which is famous for being the theme song on the, now finished, 9 season drama One Tree Hill) it was a sea of cell phones in the audience. This struck me as rather comical, reflecting on DeGraw exclaiming during Best I Ever Had: “I’m looking at the crowd and they’re staring at their phones”, but apparently the irony was lost on everyone else. Between his stacked set of hits, and even a rendition of Hall & Oates’ Rich Girl, Gavin Degraw delivered impeccable vocals and stage presence and had the crowd eating out of his hands through to the last note of Not Over You, a hit from his 2011 album Sweeter that saw OTH fame, that he closed the set with.
I’ll be totally honest though, I wasn’t sure about Matt Nathanson at first. His set up was slightly less impressive, and he came out on stage wearing his own tour shirt. The shirt from the tour he was on currently. At first, I thought I’d chalk it up to it being the only clean shirt he had, but I have now decided he just has the kind of sense of humour that lets him get away with it. By the time he had won me over with his goofy grin and snappy, sometimes crude, humour, I had let him off the hook. It’s amazing what you can get away with when you can make people laugh. Nathanson could probably go on tour alone, opening for himself with a stand up routine, and I think people would buy into it—or at least I would. Between being impressed by his performance, I was constantly cracking up. During song breaks he was cracking jokes, or saying something very inappropriate in the presence of the ten-year old in the audience he kept apologizing to, or starting massive sing-alongs to Whitney Houston, George Michael and Iggy Azalea. Oh, and the dancing; he really takes pride in shaking his hips around. Partly I’m sure because he knows he’s funny, and partly because the audience loves it. Nathanson was also touring in support of a new album, Last of the Great Pretenders, and played a bunch of new tracks as well as some old favorites like “Faster” and “Wedding Dress” and threw in a cover of James’ Laid. He closed the set with his first big single, Come On Get Higher that turned into a big sing a long to You’re the One That I Want fromGrease. Throughout the course of his set I counted at least 6 sing-alongs, countless jokes, and an infinite amount of booty-shaking. Matt Nathanson clearly just wants everyone to have as much fun as he does on stage, and I think he successfully achieves that.
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Photos and Review by Ashley Smith |