Twenty-six sold out shows on his U.S. leg of the tour and I found myself at EDEN’s Philadelphia show at Union Transfer. I’ve got to give Jonathon Ng credit — his audience was diverse. The indie pop artist attracted a crowd from adolescents with their adult parents, to adults themselves, pining to hear an up-and-coming artist. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to such a small show with such an age gap among fans. Perhaps it’s Ng’s deep, meaningful lyricism, or perhaps it’s his artistry, but he sold out 26 shows in the U.S. on his own with just a single debut record to his name. Sounds impressive.
Verite was the opener, and was a tough act for EDEN to follow. She was quirky on stage, interacted with fans and had some great onstage effects to support her catchy set list — including a fantastic cover of The 1975’s “Somebody Else.” Verite just seems like a wonderfully intelligent person; I’d recommend reading her article on Forbes about Spotify. EDEN could take a page out of her book; she was fantastic.
Ng is a “multi instrumentalist.” I’m sure that his talents go far beyond vocals, piano, guitar, drums and violin, but you would never know from watching his show. Ng owns his own record label, MCMXCV, plays all of the instruments listed above and is a fantastic producer. His debut album, “Vertigo,” includes singles that were released via a 13-city scavenger hunt. EDEN’s song “falling in reverse” includes a sample from Disney’s 2000 animated hit film “The Emperor’s New Groove.” Despite all of this incredible talent and creativity, Ng did not bring the same passion to his live show.
It was EDEN’s first world tour. Expecting fantastic onstage lighting effects, live production and Ng showing off his vast skills and artistry, I left his April 6 show very disappointed. His setlist was great — capturing his entire track listing of his debut album “Vertigo.” My problem was that if I wanted to hear EDEN play the entire album, I would have stayed home and listened comfortably and not in a sold out venue.
EDEN was accompanied by a live band, but a guitarist and a drummer played over pre-recorded melodies I’m sure Ng recorded in his studio. Given that Ng can play both live instruments and created his own live soundscapes, it was so frustrating to see him only occasionally play from an electronic drum kit or guitar. The entire show felt like a tease of what Ng could accomplish in a full studio and a sorry excuse to see him live. No covers, no surprises, nothing unique. Aside from a new song, it felt so stale. It was like I was watching EDEN do passionless karaoke to his own music.
I feel guilty writing this poor review. I adore EDEN’s music, and I think “Vertigo” is a masterfully crafted album. EDEN certainly has a long career as a performer and producer ahead of him as he is so talented. I’m just hopeful that he learns to put on a show for his fans young and old, not just playing songs off his record.