OneRepublic with Masked Wolf and Robinson at Spark Arena, 16 March 2023 – Concert Review

OneRepublic

OneRepublic, two for the show, three to get ready and then they blast off into an evening of powerful incandescent pop to a near full house at the Arena tonight.

The band comes from Colorado, the High Times state and celebrate their twenty-first birthday this year. Over that time they have amassed a fair amount of pop hits after gaining initial success on social networking site, MySpace.

OneRepublicRyan Tedder on lead vocals and piano is the visual focal point for the band and is the chief songwriter. With Zach Filkins on lead guitar and viola, and Drew Brown on rhythm guitar, they are the founding members of the band.

Completed by Eddie Fisher drums and Brent Kutzle on bass guitar and cello. There are a couple of others onstage tonight augmenting the core band.

A true family audience tonight with many pre-teens present. It is a band the Millennials’ have unashamedly embraced.

Opening song Secrets, from 2009 album Waking Up sets the tone. A quiet opening quickly becomes big and bombastic. The strings are playing but you can’t hear them.

You do on Rescue Me, and they add a melodic softening to their big pop sound.

Stop and Stare from debut album Dreaming Out Loud is one of their earliest hits from 2007. Tedder shows off his vocal range with a high sustained and controlled falsetto. He has a white soul blended with power pop style, like Wham and George Michael.

OneRepublic

Their songs are hook-laden and appear simple, but with a lot of craft underlying. They can lay some claim to being the Beach Boys of the twenty-first century. They have the endless sunny energy of Los Angeles and Southern California of the Sixties.

Like Brian Wilson when he was diving off the deep end of his genius, they can lay down a song like Apologize. Starting with baroque cathedral tones, until the strings and come in with a beautiful uplifting melody. You tell me that you need me/ Then you go and cut me down/ Too late to apologize.

They extend the song with Tedder organising the Arena into three sections, so he can set up a huge massed choir. I agree with him that it was an impressive audience effort.

Just prior, I Ain’t Worried is more a stadium chant, with the drums thundering over the top. Whistles make a nice counterpoint.

Robinson
Robinson

First support is Anna Robinson, originally from Nelson, New Zealand and making a name for herself over the last three years, despite the pandemic lockdown. Has worked with artists and studios around Australia, UK and America.

She looks like Alanis Morrisette on the big stage. Quite diminutive with long bushy black  hair. She stalks the stage in similar fashion.

RobinsonWith Nothing To Regret, a big voice which can fill the Arena and elevate above the loud power pop band behind her.

When they drop it down into a minimalist folk pop tune, she can also sound breathy and play on the broken-hearted and melancholy.

Oblivion is a cleverly written pop banger with a dark edge. I hate you leaving/ It’s the death of me. The drums dictate this one. She yells a bit as she gets more fraught.

Things Aren’t Nice In Paradise is her just-released single and it is a stand-out in her short set. More heartbreak and matched to a powerful chorus.

She will be headlining a show this weekend at the smaller club venue at the far end of the Arena, the Tuning Fork.

Masked Wolf
Masked Wolf

Masked Wolf is Harry Michael from Sydney, Australia and he carries himself with the typical braggadocio of a cock-strutting rapper. He promises to be the best show of the night.

Masked WolfHis set does start with a DJ cutting up impressively on the turntables. So mean! Yeah!

Wolf comes on and his bragging is impressive. Fast and with a nice syncopated rhythm, that can climb to a speed-fuelled natter prefaced by are you ready to go crazy!

Wolf was a long-time gamer before getting into rap and performing. He claims he would tend to be a shut-in if he had his preference. But music is also a passion. He had a clip go viral on Tik-Tok. So now he has the pleasure of being here with us, as Grandmaster Flash also once stated. Many years ago at the beginning of rap, on his famous Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel.

He wrote Paper Planes amid the covid contagion, and a mate’s suicide. It is taken at a slower vocal delivery. It is raw and hits a deep nerve. I used to love goin’ to sleep/ That’s how you dodge the pain/ I used to wake up thinkin’ / I should go to sleep again.  Close to a blues in spirit.

Astronaut in the Ocean is his biggest hit and it has a great rolling rhythm, the turntable breaks synchronising with the speed rap.

OneRepublic
OneRepublic

Half-way through the set and Tedder does what he calls a Kiwi Karaoke. He is a prolific songwriter and has written for many other artists. He name-drops many of the current pop royalty in America. Teases the audience with the beginning of Lorde’s Royals.

OneRepublicA playful misdirection. He wrote Halo for Beyonce and does a stunning version of it, accompanying himself on piano. The ghost of Jerry Lee appears momentarily in his mannerisms.

The mini set within the main set also includes a rousing version of the Jonas Brothers Suckered.

Tedder can move with the style and grace of a Prince, or Jagger in the Sixties with his loose-limbed rooster strut. Glides across a big stage, and even traversed the entire packed floor without compromising his voice.

The band are no slouches either. One of the best of the night was Counting Stars. An acoustic guitar starts and quickly leads into fast and furious finger-picked Gypsy jazz and flamenco. The viola picks it up in harmony. The others come back in to rage. One of the best lyrics of the night. Everything that kills me/ Makes me feel alive. Sometimes you must kill off parts of yourself to be born again. A great in-concert version and I think a nod to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. It’s a pop song now!

OneRepublic

They close the night with If I Lose Myself.

OneRepublic are a well-rehearsed and disciplined pop band. That translates to inspirational music. All night the packed floor audience swayed and moved in sync. That’s some power.

Rev Orange Peel  

Click any icon to view a gallery of photos for each artist. All photos by Veronica McLaughlin

OneRepublic
Robinson
Masked Wolf