Most people first heard Gavin DeGraw singing “I Don’t Want To Be” as the theme song of the WB show One Tree Hill, but the first time I heard him was when he sang Smokey Robinson & The Miracles song “Tracks of My Tears” on a lesser known NBC drama that took place in America in the 1960s. I fell in love with this soulful voice from a different era. I was excited to hear this timeless voice perform his hits, as well as hopeful that I’d get to hear some of that 60s sound that first caught my attention.
Gavin Degraw played a show that was a mix of his greatest hits and tracks from his most recent album, Something Worth Saving. He is touring as a trio with a backing drummer and a guitarist/upright bassist, giving the show a much more intimate sound. Without an opener, the show started off with the title track from his 2003 debut “Chariot,” a song that acknowledges his influences, but has a distinctly 21st century sound. He then moved into “Making Love With The Radio On” from his most recent album and acknowledged that the crowd might not know the lyrics from this album yet, which was an unexpected moment of candor from a guy who has had crowd’s singing the songs with him for over a decade.
He continued with “In Love With a Girl,” and “Kite Like Girl,” showing how comfortable he is up there, especially with his up-tempo hits. When he stepped away from the piano and slowed it down with “Best I Ever Had” and “Run Every Time,” he demonstrated how powerful his voice is. As he sat back down to play “Stealing,” he joked about how he wrote this country/western song and wanted to give it a friend in Nashville before realizing he didn’t have any friends in Nashville and deciding to sing it himself. In this song, it was just his voice and the piano, and despite being a country song, the simplicity of the performance highlighted his voice and reminded me of that first time I’d ever heard his voice.
He then performed “Won’t Back Down,” as a tribute to Tom Petty, whose death on October 2 is still fresh in my mind, but the significance seemed to be lost on most of the crowd. He proceeded to play his mix of hits and new songs until he let his backing band take the lead on “Maybe I’m Amazed” he played a cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which he prefaced with the story of how he got a box of records from his brother’s boxing coach, who told him to listen to and learn from these real singers. For me, this was the highlight of the show because despite being 50 years later, the song is as applicable now as it was then.
He finished his set with his most famous song, “Not Over You,” which the crowd loved. They cheered for the encore, and DeGraw was more than happy to come out to play a few more songs, commenting on the “amount of love in the room.” He decided to play “Who’s Gonna Save Us,” a song that he said he doesn’t get to play much, to start out his encore. He followed it up with “Belief,” finishing the song in tears because he lost his mom earlier this year. Of course, he ended the encore and the show with the song that made him famous, “I Don’t Want To Be.”
Overall, Gavin DeGraw’s was funny in between songs and an amazing performer. His voice and his musical skill is even more evident in person than it is on his records. And his small backing band made the show feel intimate, like I was there with a crowd of 300, not 3000.
Review – Rhodes Ford
Photos – Arianne Bergeron