Andy Grammer’s a born performer: charming, talented, adorable, and authentic.
1st Bank Center, Denver
This was a classic example of “Never let the more vibrant showman play before you.” While the audience members (myself included) were looking forward to DeGraw’s set, the fact that it followed Andy Grammer’s was highly detrimental to our level of enjoyment.
Whereas Grammer’s show had been filled with colored lights and movement, DeGraw’s was largely a black-and-white affair: black clothes, white lights. He took the stage wordlessly, heading straight to his piano that sat stage center. While plenty of piano players have delivered exciting, engaging performances, the seated singer always runs the risk of failing to engage and connect with the audience. Unfortunately, the latter seemed in play tonight.
DeGraw’s set was true to his style, a mix of pop, roots, and slow ballads. I love the first and I like the second—but as the third act of the night, we needed more of the upbeat and less of the slow. The mood dropped palpably with each mellow number. It was getting late; we were getting tired; we wanted to dance.
The best decision of the night was when DeGraw opted to create a songwriters-in-the-round atmosphere. He explained he was trying to recreate a European tour where it was just three of them on the road, and not the five-piece he boasted tonight. The other four joined him at the front of the stage, on stools and acoustic instruments, and delivered the best few songs of the night. After that, for me, at least, DeGraw never recaptured that closeness, that intimacy with the audience.
But let me tell you about Andy Grammer. The man’s a born performer: charming, talented, adorable, and authentic. He loves his fans and he loves what he does—and that unchecked enthusiasm is contagious. Like DeGraw, Grammer was backed by four musicians who were both talented and comical (more on that later). He bonded with the audience immediately, making us feel he cared about every single person in that crowd.
He expressed gratitude; he told stories, including an especially hilarious one about writing the song “Forever.” It seems he and his wife were getting ready to go to a wedding—which they almost missed because of how long she was taking. Rather than get mad, he said, he took his guitar outside and wrote this song. As he sang and played, the rest of the band came to the front of the stage, pantomiming a woman getting dressed, putting on makeup, admiring herself in the mirror. Truly, it was one of the funniest things I’ve seen at a concert.
As Grammer played, I mentally ranked his show among my top concerts of the year. At first, I thought, he was in the top 5; I checked off other shows in my head. Within a couple songs, he had moved to #3, and then #2. By the time his set concluded, I knew I had just seen the best show of the year.
Despite the enthusiastic reaction both headliners received, the crowd was sparser than expected. Even with part of the 1st Bank Center curtained off, the floor was still over half empty, and the seats more so. It was a surprising sight, given the pedigrees of the performers and the fact that it was a Saturday night—in music-loving Denver, no less. Still, I was glad to have been one of the attendees; this was not a show I would have wanted to miss. | Laura Hamlett