Since his debut album in 2008, “Sounds Like This,” Eric Hutchinson has been playing his signature “intelligent pop” across the globe garnering an impressive host of tour credits, such as Jason Mraz and One Republic, and has built up an equally impressive fan base. With the recent release of his third studio album, “Pure Fiction,” Hutchinson launched his U.S. “Tell the World” tour with special guests Saints of Valory. They stopped by Philadelphia’s own Theatre of Living Arts May 21 to put on an incredibly energetic performance.
The floor at the Theatre of Living Arts was filled to capacity Wednesday; everyone waiting anxiously for the opening band to take stage. As the lights began to fall, the din of the room fell to a quiet murmur. The alternative rock band Saints of Valory took the stage and the crowd readied itself for what would be a frenetic 40-minute set. With a style reminiscent of the recent megahit group Imagine Dragons, the Texas-based band rocked the house with tracks off their two EPs “Possibilities” and “V,” and a special cover of Lorde’s smash hit “Royals.”
For the entirety of their performance, lead vocalist and bassist Gavin Jasper gave his all behind the microphone and bass guitar. Guitarist Godfrey Thomson strutted across the stage while Gerard Labou banged out the beat behind the drum kit, and Stephen Buckle danced next to his keyboards. It was energetic and fun. Closing on a very percussive version of “Kids,” the band got one last chance to amaze the audience before stepping offstage.
After a short wait, the lights dropped down low again but this time the crowd didn’t hush. It exploded; people were jumping up and down, screaming out their favorite songs; pure madness through and through.
Coming onstage wielding nothing more than a smile, Eric Hutchinson settled in behind the keyboard while his band readied themselves, plugging in amps and adjusting the drum kit. Acknowledging the crowd, Hutchinson talked the audience down from their pure insanity before launching into “Love Like You” off of his recent release “Pure Fiction,” the song being a perfect example of how effortlessly Hutchinson bridges the gap between pop and blues.
Playing through his set, Hutchinson melds his music together old and new alike, creating a seamless experience. Playing a mix of his early hits, “Oh!” “OK, It’s Alright With Me” and “Outside Villanova,” and new songs like the witty “Forget About Joni,” the crowd was electric as they yelled all the lyrics as loud as possible.
Halfway through his set and halfway through “The Basement,” Hutchinson changed gears and put on a cover of his own, playing Pharrell’s recent hit “Happy.” Caught off-guard, the crowd was up and moving about, quickly chiming in with the “Despicable Me 2” song.
Bringing the concert to a close with “You Don’t Have To Believe Me,” Hutchinson’s backup band was jamming out, dancing, moving, singing along and grooving. Thanking everyone for coming, he played one more off “Pure Fiction,” the anthemic “Forever.” With microphone in hand Hutchinson jumped around the stage to the beat before stepping backstage, still singing. That’s when the first person in the crowd screamed and everyone began converging on the center of the floor where Hutchinson was singing and dancing with all of his fans. Without missing a beat, Hutchinson made his way back onstage and closed out the concert with a wave, or so we all thought.
In response to the still screaming crowd he granted a short encore of the night coming back onstage and singing the “na-na-na’s” of his signature song “Rock & Roll.” Rolling right into his next track, “Tell The World,” Hutchinson brought the crowd back down as the concert came to a satisfying close.
From the energetic openers, Saints of Valory, to Eric Hutchinson’s last song the concert was energetic, alive even, and it was felt through the floor. Eric Hutchinson is both a musician and a performer, flawlessly hitting every note with vocal precision while maintaining the light-hearted atmosphere that first catapulted him up into the charts. It was not a concert to be missed, and I’m eagerly waiting for him to make his way back to the City of Brotherly Love.