OneRepublic aren’t really a proper rock band. Not by our standards, anyway. We know that. It’s fine, but this band put on an incredible show and their material is relentlessly catchy, and that’s why we are here. Just about. We fall victim to Leeds’ horrific traffic system before we arrived – it’s been a freakin’ nightmare, honest. Huge props to staff at the venue for helping us out. We digress. As per usual.
From the opening, as a the band begins to play ‘Light It Up’ behind a massive white sheet, there’s a special mood in the packed O2 Academy here in good ‘ol Leeds. The best thing about this band is their talent for multi-instrumental epicness, oh, and a mighty pop hook that’ll have you feeling great about pretty much everything (see ‘Good Life’ and it’s mighty tear-jerking chorus – yes, we’re so rock!). Each musician here can play drums…really well, alongside a range of instruments including the cello, and the light-up piano. Musically, the ultimate highlight comes as guitarist Zach Filkins breaks into an awesome solo of looped flamenco riffage. Further proof that this band is the real deal, and worthy of our attention – not just some cheesy sh**.
Production-wise, there’s some stunning stuff here, video footage plays throughout showing the band in rehearsal during regular breaks in play, as well as clips of Charlie Chaplin to entertain, and a nod to the band’s own charitable work). Alongside these aspects, the four drums at the front of the stage (for the encore) light up with every beat for the encore, and ‘If I Lose Myself’ where a tonne of confetti is released to close the show – pretty delightful, really. Real passion is showcased from start to finish, and ‘All The Right Moves’ (this writer’s favourite tune – get shivers down the spine, and everythin’) is delivered with an extra heavy punch within the live arena, which is just bloomin’ ace to see. Of course, we can’t really ignore the ultra-anthem that is ‘Counting Stars’ – the almost sickeningly feel-good anthem that will undoubtedly be many-a-fan’s pick of the night.
There are some frankly wonderful moments tonight (the raucous crowd shots on the aforementioned video footage for ‘…Lose Myself’ are just one example, the neon red (and blue) piano is another), and the crowd’s emotional response (there are arms outstretched, and good-natured banter moments throughout) for each song (particularly during a mega rendition of ‘I Lived’) is nothing short of immense. Right from the touching piano intro of ‘Apologize’, we are transported into 1R’s world, and that is a place of emotive lyrics, stadium choruses and proper powerpop sounds that build and build, really connecting with the audience here. Really, this is a stadium show packed into an Academy venue, and we’re sure this lot aren’t that many years away from major festival headlining slots. Good flippin’ times, guys. Thanks for having us. Sugar-sweet-pop-rock-whatever, we’ve had fun. And that counts for a lot.
For images, and tweets from the gig, visit: twitter.com/soundspheremag