fun. blends rock and roll with theatrics at the Mann Center (photos, review)
All photos by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com
Prior to New York-based pop group fun.‘s stop at The Mann Center, I had given each of their two albums several listens, both of which offered excellent songwriting overshadowed by a notably polished and produced sound, customary to today’s pop music. Live, however, the band takes on a new dimension, appearing sooner as a rock band than anything else. It comes as no surprise that fun. has developed one of the most devout audiences I’ve seen at a concert in a while; frontman Nate Ruess’s lustrous vocals being supported by the impressive musicianship of core members Andrew Dost and Jake Antonoff in addition to a talented and energetic live band (including Philadelphia native Will Noon on drums).
I knew I would be getting a show, yet I was pleasantly surprised to find that fun. puts on a concert that verges on being theatrical. The three previously mentioned core members opened up with a barbershop-style (costume-wise) rendition of the intro to Some Nights. The delicate airiness, however, did not last long, as they busted out the full band with the percussive and upbeat track, “One Foot.” It’s an impressive sight (and sound) when, not five songs into the set, a sold-out crowd of 14,000 is shouting Ruess’s melancholy lyrics right back at him in a passionate unison on “Why Am I The One”. Later in the set, power-pop became power-punk (admittedly only after teasing Los Lonely Boys’ “Heaven”) with another track off Some Nights, “It Gets Better”, which turned out to be an ironically prognostic choice, the energy all but increasing in what Ruess proclaimed to be “the world’s largest sauna”.
On the next percussion-heavy song, “Barlights”, the group continued to prove their worth in the limelight, Ruess encouraging the crowd to sing along (not that he needed to) and Antonoff joining in on percussion after teasing Gary Glitter’s “Rock And Roll Part 2” as confetti erupted across the audience. Speaking of the lead guitarist, Antonoff took a killer solo on the following song, “Carry On.” After taking down the tempo on “The Gambler”, fun. offered up a rather faithful cover of The Rolling Stones classic, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, which has become somewhat of a staple in their shows. Before closing out the set with “Take Your Time (Coming Home)”, the group performed their most recent hit, “We Are Young”, at which point the crowd was undoubtedly at its apex.
It’s been a while since I’ve witnessed a band perform with such collective flare as fun. did. While seemingly humble and unassuming, frontman Nate Ruess proved to be a more-than-worthy entertainer, prancing across the stage, jumping off risers and making the crowd feel a part of the performance as well. In concert, fun. is an exuberant and cohesive group of excellent musicians who do nothing but provide the goods.
Joining fun. was Canadian indie-rock duo Tegan and Sara. The twin sisters’ songwriting and feel-good style of performance was a welcome addition to fun.’s vigorous act. It became evident as their set went on that they too are capable of being self-assured crowd0pleasers. Quite honestly, my only complaint was the heat, which by no means stopped anyone from having a great time.