The threat of storms and oppressive humidity didn’t deter fans of all ages from filling the lawn and pavilion at the DTE Energy Music Theatre on Wednesday, July 19.
A nearly sold-out crowd showed up to count stars and clap their hands at this year’s incarnation of the Honda Civic Tour, headlined by OneRepublic with special guests Fitz & the Tantrums and James Arthur.
Once the strobe lights started flashing and smoke filled the stage, it was obvious that OneRepublic has made the jump from an unsigned indie band int big-league pop music commercial success. A single spotlight shone down on lead singer Ryan Tedder at an upright piano near mid-stage as he picked out the opening notes of “Stop and Stare,” and the audience did exactly that through the first verse until the band kicked in and Tedder showed off his versatility, moving to the front of the stage with a guitar.
The six-piece band delivered it 19-song, 90-minute set from stage with a pyramid-shaped lighting rig, complete with lasers and various neon colors surrounding the risers. OneRepublic chose to forego the standard video screens beside the stage and instead used two triangle-shaped boards behind the group onstage. The big-producton effects were a bit of a contrast to Tedder’s hipster uniform of black ankle pants, a black fedora-type hat, white graphic T-shirt and a black short-sleeved shirt on top, but there was nothing lethargic about the frontman’s performance. He twirled across the stage, bounced up onto monitors to encourage audience sing-alongs and even tossed his hat into the air during “Better.”
OneRepublic is a band made up of multi-instrumentalists, and though Wednesday’s concert often felt like the Ryan Tedder Show, the musicianship on display was outstanding. Zach Filkins played an impressive Spanish guitar solo near the end of the show, and his viola along with Brent Kutzle’s cello added depth to hits such as “Secrets,” “Feel Again” and “Apologize.” The lush sound of the familiar pop songs translated well into the live performance and allowed Tedder to soar on all of the high notes, which he did with seeming ease. His vocals on “Let’s Hurt Tonight” late in the show were especially strong.
Seated at the piano, Tedder told stories of how he was “lucky enough to write songs with some other great people” when he wasn’t playing with OneRepublic. His spare rendition of Beyonce’s “Halo” was especially beautiful, and the crowd lit up the night with their cell phones, swaying in time. That was followed by “Happier,” a song Tedder co-wrote with Ed Sheeran, and the intimate middle portion of the show closed out with “Come Home” and “I Lived,” the latter of which began acoustic before the full band came in and ramped things back up.
The other huge hit Tedder has a credit on turned up in the encore, when opener Fitz & the Tantrums returned to join OneRepublic for a version of Adele’s “Rumour Has It.” Earlier in the night Fitz and company delivered a rousing, high-energy hour of its hits, with Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs bouncing back and forth across the stage in their casual white ensembles as if they weren’t bothered at all by the heat. The sextet ran through 13 songs, including “Get Right Back,” “MoneyGrabber,” “HandClap” and “The Walker.”
The Los Angeles-based group seemed to be enjoying itself as much as the audience, which danced, sang and clapped along — and not just for the ubiquitous “HandClap.” Fitz waxed nostalgic about the band’s early years touring in Detroit, citing shows at Saint Andrew’s Hall, the Fillmore Detroit and even the Magic Bag as he thanked fans “sincerely, from the bottom of our hearts. We wouldn’t be here without you. It’s a total dream come true for us. This is our freaking favorite show of the whole tour!”
OneRepublic also made sure to show Michigan some love. After closing out its main set with a stirring “If I Lose Myself” that took Tedder to the top of the pavilion and into the crowd on the lawn (awkwardly leaving his camera crew to sprint down the aisle as the show ended), the encore started with an improvised “Oooohhh Michigan. Detroit Rock City” leading into “Counting Stars.” As the percussion of “Love Runs Out” beat through the air, Tedder’s voice rang out one last time over the pumping fists of the dancing crowd, it was pretty clear that it will be a long time before the love runs out for OneRepublic in Detroit.