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Concert Review: Gavin DeGraw by Lucy Holmes

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Jul 6, 2017
Picture credit: Helmi Mubarak Abdat

Picture credit: Helmi Mubarak Abdat

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Well, it was certainly worth the 13 year wait to have Gavin DeGraw back in our country again. Having shot to fame back in 2003 with his hit song “I Don’t Want to Be”, it’s taken him all these years to head back down under… and he certainly didn’t disappoint his large legion of faithful and very patient fans, who crammed into 170 Russell (formally Billboard) to see him.

The venue was electric, as die hard fans waited patiently for Gavin to appear. The energy and excitement was tangible. From the moment he stepped on stage, the audience was entirely captivated, singing along to almost every single song he played. And play them, he did. For a solid two hours and twenty minutes, without a break. With a back catalogue of over 6 albums, this was always going to be long setlist. He started with a nod to where it all began, and opened with “Chariot”, the title of his very first album. And from his first few notes, it was obvious to see why 1,000 thirty-somethings jammed into the venue like sardines on a Wednesday night, and why they have never stopped loving or following this voice.

Picture credit: Helmi Mubarak Abdat

Picture credit: Helmi Mubarak Abdat

I’ve said it before, but I think Degraw’s voice is truly one of the most remarkable voices going around right now. The tone, the control… there’s no other male singer in the world right now who has such an electric, captivating and soulful sound. Why he isn’t playing stadiums is beyond me, however his music and personality does lend itself to an intimate venue. He has a remarkable way of making you feel like you’re the only person in the room. Or maybe that’s just me. And every other lady in there.

Gavin has one of those voices which is timeless. (And it’s not only his voice, his songs seemingly don’t age either. “I Don’t Want To Be” still finds itself on high rotation on radio stations across the world because of its ageless sound). When he performed Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” towards the end of the set, you almost feel like he was born 40 years too late. It’s an old soul voice in a young man’s body, in an era of disposable Voice popstars. It’s remarkable and rare when you hear someone sing live who is somehow even better than their recordings. Vocally, he is flawless. As a singer myself, I found myself absolutely speechless during many moments of the night. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better live singer. And I’ve seen Beyonce, people.

Picture credit: Helmi Mubarak Abdat

Picture credit: Helmi Mubarak Abdat

Gavin tells a story during his shows about how he was handed a bunch of classic soul albums when he was younger (from his brother’s boxing coach of all people), and was told to study the music and the voices. That training paid off. His voice stands up alongside those greats. Easily. If I wanted to teach someone about singing and songwriting in this day and age, I’d hand them Gavin’s first CD and tell them to study that. It’s still one of my all time favourite albums. And it was magical to hear most of the tracks played live last night. It was a great nod to his fans that he covered so much of his first “Chariot” Album. It’s where it all began for so many of us.

Gavin performed tracks such as “Crush”, “Nice to Meet You”, “Something Worth Saving”, “Follow Through”, “City on Fire”, “Not Over You”, “Belief” (thanks to a few fans) and even threw in a few bars of George Michael’s “Faith” for good measure. I got the feeling by the end that Gavin didn’t want to leave the stage any more than the audience wanted him to finish. The applause was long and very well earned. He promised he wouldn’t leave it so long between visits and hinted at returning this year sometime. So, as Molly would say, do yourself a favour and grab his first album and educate yourself if you’re not yet a fan. You’re in for a treat. There’s simply no other voice you can compare it too. He’s one in a million.

Click here to check out my interview with Gavin a few weeks back when we caught up over the phone before his tour.