By Karmin Yu. “Is there anybody out there” who can light up a room with their heart-warming smiles and upbeat music? Yes. Yes there is and that’d be New York duo, A Great Big World, who did exactly that on Tuesday night at Montreal’s Corona Theatre.
The show began by shining the spotlight on Greg Holden and his guitar. Although a one man show might not seem too appealing, all I have to say is not to underestimate his presence nor his folk sound. He managed to capture the room’s attention and brought us all on a roller coaster adventure, where his slower songs, such as “I Don’t Believe You,” made us understand his frustration and his faster ones like “Are We Wasted” had us all clapping along to the beat of the drum. His most intimate moment with the audience was when he sang “Home” – yes, the song popularized by Phillip Phillips, but actually co-written by Holden himself with Drew Pearson. Although the singer-songwriter only had his guitar and his powerful voice to accompany him on stage, his set was still captivating due to its simplicity.
Next, Jukebox the Ghost took over the stage. Comprised of Ben Thornewill (piano and vocals), Tommy Siegel (guitar and vocals) and Jesse Kristin (drums), these three New York natives brought life and energy to the stage, really preparing us for A Great Big World. Even though the band has been together for ten years now, they still delivered us with some fresh indie music– after all, it is their first time performing in Montreal. Their setlist composed of songs from their past three albums, including “Hold It In,” “Schizophrenia” and “Adulthood”. However, Thornewill really showcased his strong vocal abilities in the band’s rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Not only was their music pleasing to the ears, but their stage presence also won the crowd’s likings, where Thornewill pretended to be a robot in “Hold It In” and Kristin multitasked by playing two percussion instruments at once. Although their set was a little too long for an opening band, the trio’s interactions with the crowd made up for it and even created a lasting first impression.
Finally, the long-awaited stars popped up on stage with “Rockstar” that made fans go wild. The crowd got louder when they then played “Land of Opportunity” and “Everyone is Gay.” Soon after, the room fell silent and sang in unison during “Already Home,” “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else” and obviously, “Say Something,” the career-changing song that brought fame to Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino. The duo then invited Jukebox the Ghost and Greg Holden to join them on stage to sing “Shorty Don’t Wait.” At the same time, they also filmed this performance and promised to include this segment in their 30 Videos in 30 Days playlist on YouTube. Playing some slower tunes in the second half of their set, the energy level didn’t quite match the first half nor did it compare to Jukebox the Ghost’s – despite the fact that A Great Big World was the main band of the night. Another reason that could explain the drop in fan enthusiasm is the lack of crowd interaction. But rest assured, their nerdy (in a good way) stage presence made up for those negative aspects.
All in all, I really recommend this show for those who are looking to expand their musical tastes and for those who are looking to know A Great Big World beyond “Say Something.” With a few adjustments to the main setlist, it would definitely be a night that fans would enjoy.