O.A.R. deliver lively show on the harbor

A review of O.A.R. at the Bank of America Pavilion on July 29, 2010

, Contributing Writer

Every band thrives on the adoration and support of its fans, but it’s difficult to find a band that is willing reciprocate that love. This rare quality is what makes Of A Revolution (O.A.R.) such a treat to see in concert; and Thursday night at the Bank of America Pavilion, that mutual devotion had performer and spectator alike enjoying themselves from start to finish of the lively set.

O.A.R. has come a long way from their humble beginnings as a high school garage band to one of the biggest names in rock, but their relationship with fans has remained simply unbreakable. It survived the often alienating transition to mainstream music, a process that frequently leaves a band’s original fan base behind. And though O.A.R. now has no shortage of supporters across the country, they still give it their all to make every concert an unforgettable experience. Every time they play a live show, write a song, and even pick up an instrument, it’s all about connecting with the fans.

After a ten minute countdown – the last minute of which was dominated by a cacophony of raucous cheering – O.A.R. took the stage and opened with “My Life”, featuring the first of several spectacular solos by saxophonist Jerry DePizzo. While most rock bands take the opportunity of a live show to display the prowess of their lead guitarist, DePizzo and his brass (though the saxophone is technically a woodwind instrument) weapon of choice enjoyed the spotlight in the majority of the songs. It’s a refreshing change to see the extensive soloing of a typical rock concert go to something that doesn’t have six strings, and DePizzo’s ability to integrate what is usually a jazz or blues instrument into the rock genre does not go unnoticed. Not only does he fit in well with the band, but his solos also provided some of the night’s highlights; the clear notes and riffs emanating from his horn soared to the heights of the tent in songs like “52-50”, “That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker”, and especially “Hey Girl”. The speed with which he navigated through the octaves, fingers moving at a blinding rate, was nothing short of ridiculous at times.

After an animated rendition of “Dareh Meyod”, vocalist Mark Roberge stopped to address the excited crowd. After thanking fans for their support, he announced his appreciation for the city of Boston. “We wrote this song because we had cities like this in mind,” he said right before the band broke into fan favorite “This Town”. The audience loved the gesture, and the Pavilion became a sea of heads bouncing up and down to the lively beat. The place simply exploded when the song reached the chorus, as DePizzo swung his guitar over his back and rapidly switched from axe to sax for another solo.

Next came “52-50”; O.A.R.’s ability to smoothly transition from rock-based songs like “This Town” or “Shattered” to reggae-sounding numbers like “52-50” and “Over And Over” and even a blend of the two (“Night Shift” is a good example) is a feat that not many bands can pull off. The song featured a dynamic solo from guitarist Richard On. Though his guitar takes a backseat to DePizzo’s saxophone when it comes to solos, he made his count when he got the chance, his riffs ringing out with a fierce clarity reminiscent of Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover”. In fact, one of the night’s highlights came when the two shared the spotlight during “Conquering Fools”. As they traded off melodies with an intensity not unlike an old-fashioned banjo duel, the saxophone’s soulful notes and On’s precise fretwork provided the perfect complementation. But not even that dual solo could match the energy of “That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker”. The song is as long as its title, and fans loved every minute of it as the venue instantly transformed into a dance floor for its entire duration.

After returning for a lengthy but dynamic encore, O.A.R. finally closed the set with “City On Down”. “Alright, Jerry, say goodnight!” Roberge said, grinning as he unleashed his saxophonist upon the delighted crowd. One would think that solo after solo from the same instrument would get a bit stale after a while, but not this night. DePizzo’s finale was a thrilling extraordinaire that electrified the audience with his passionate notes. The band knows that their well of talent peaks with their saxophonist, and it was just right that he closed the night with another one of his rousing solos.

The night got off to a rocky start with opener Citizen Cope. His hour-long set barely stirred any reaction among the crowd; the only noticeable responses came during “Bullet And A Target” and “Let The Drummer Kick”. The rest of his songs were just generic and bland. At one point, there were more people watching a passing tanker in the harbor than were paying attention to the performance.

Leave a Reply