fun.’s journey to the top continues in Boston

A review of fun. at the Orpheum Theatre on February 1, 2013

, Contributing Writer

It’s been almost three years since a young band called fun. went on tour opening for Andrew McMahon’s Jack’s Mannequin. Friday night, the now Grammy-nominated trio proved just how far they’ve come over the years, this time as headliners at a sold-out Orpheum Theatre in Boston.

On a stage adorned with screens embedded into the background and mounted to look like large lights, fun. kicked off the Some Nights-heavy setlist with “Out of Town”. Immediately the crowd was on their feet, singing along to every word of every song. After the first two songs, the band transitioned temporarily back in time to their 2009 debut Aim and Ignite with “All The Pretty Girls”, a song for which the many screens sprang to life as a cityscape.

Lead singer Nate Ruess was all smiles, all the time. This was especially aapprant as the band segued into their newly-announced single “Why Am I The One?”, a classic fun. song that builds to the chorus. With three backing musicians joining the trio on stage, five voices on-stage voices were joined by hundreds in the crowd, making for some powerful acapella moments on the track. But as stunning as the vocals and harmonies always are, fellow fun. members Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff brought their instrumental skills to light in various solos throughout the show, while the touring members offered much-needed support to fill out the sound for the bigger numbers.

Looking somewhat bewildered and overcome with the size and passion of the crowd before him, Ruess declared, “I gotta change my stance on Boston sports fans ’cause clearly you guys are the best fans in the world.”

He engaged the crowd further with a call-and-response during “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)”. Sandwiched between newer songs, it was easy to hear the band’s move to a more pop-friendly sound since Aim and Ignite. This shift, highlighted in their more popular singles, featured more synth and vocal distortion but doesn’t go too far past the classic fun. sound. In the live setting, the contrast made for a set that both new and old fans could enjoy.

The older “Barlights” cleverly featured the same cityscape as “All The Pretty Girls” but this time in a nighttime setting, and Ruess called out “I feel alive!”, then moving seamlessly into “All Alright”. Once again taking a short (and final) trip back to their debut, there was a short acoustic pause, with the emotionally heavy “Gambler” taking on a little less weight than usual as Ruess couldn’t seem to keep from smiling.

Taking the time to point out the band’s Boston connections, Ruess hinted at a possible return of the band for St. Patrick’s Day and the guys goofed around trying to play the intro to the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”.

The main set came to a close with the epic “We Are Young”, and a neat screen effect coupled with dimmer lighting made it look as though Ruess and the whole band was engulfed in flames. After a brief break, the band returned to the stage adorned in Celtics jerseys for and encore of “Some Nights” and “Stars”. Never wavering, fun. proved their prowess and gave the sold-out crowd their money’s worth.

The show got started with a solid performance by Andrew McMahon. The now-solo artist played songs from both his bands, Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate. He also debuted a new song entitled “Learn To Dance”, a track heavier on synth and leaning more towards today’s pop trends than McMahon’s past work.

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