Pier 26 at Hudson River Park, New York, NY
July 22, 2013
Concert Review: Fun. at Hudson River Park
Returning to the Big Apple for the first of two back to back sold out nights, New York City’s adopted sons in Fun. pulled out all the stops during their ninety minute set at a jam packed Pier 26 at the west side’s Hudson River Park on Monday night. With support from special guests Tegan and Sara, the humid summer evening turned into a rain soaked celebration of all there is to love about collaborating rock and pop music into one. But most of all, the show played as a coming out party for a headlining act as poised as ever to take their next step forward.
Readers of LocalBozo.com will surely recognize our affinity for Fun. From their 2012 sold out shows at Terminal 5, the intimacy of their special Google Wallet performance inside of Irving Plaza amid a wintry storm outside, followed by an even more exclusive acoustic afternoon with the band at the Bowery Ballroom, monitoring the band’s ascension to other levels since the release of their breakthrough album “Some Nights” has been particularly satisfying for this outlet. But Monday night’s performance (and certainly, with the subsequent dates on this tour to follow) was all about harnessing the experiences they’ve garnered by touring relentlessly over the past two years. And in doing so, the band has crafted an unparalleled stage show in terms of raw energy, and yes- fun.
With a 10pm curfew lingering over the show, the band took centerstage as the clock struck 8:30 with the trio out first to a singular spotlight shining upon the tuxedo clad band. Fans grew to a frenzy as the “Some Nights Intro” slowly built as the show’s opener, before the tuxedos were thrown to the stage floor, the massive backing screen was illuminated for even fans watching from buildings across the street to see, and the backing bandmates joined Fun. on stage, ripping into the band’s defiant carnival-like track “One Foot.” The crowd meanwhile picked their spots to become unglued as the set progressed, but for the most part could perhaps best be described as having a “case of the Mondays,” appreciative certainly, but often times aloof, and hardly the raucous audience we’d expected for the band’s largest show in their unofficial hometown.
To the band’s credit however, they did everything within their charismatic musicianship to bring a stoic crowd out of their collective shell, including putting together an incredibly effective setlist from start to finish. Enveloping a spirited cover of The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” the band ripped through a chunk of their two album catalog, with a brief departure into Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” to humorously tease the crowd for good measure. The band’s upbeat and catchy tracks like “All Alone,” “Why Am I the One,” and “Barlights” played out perfectly amid the group’s colorful stage show. Frontman Nate Ruess genuinely enjoyed himself from the get go, courageously hitting every note that his songs demanded and resting for nary a moment while up on stage. As the opening chords to the band’s latest hit “Carry On” began to play, the sea of people docked on the waterfront pier finally began to make some real noise, shouting out the chorus at the top of their lungs as thousands of approving hands swayed overhead.
The evening wasn’t without its poignant moments however. Citing much of the band’s family in attendance, Ruess’ “The Gambler” was an especially sweet version of their heartfelt song with touchingly inspired lyrics that only a band of Fun.’s caliber is truly capable of pulling off with honesty. As the evening’s drizzling rain turned into an all out downpour, each drop seemed to fuel the jam packed audience who jumped in place and danced around without worry, setting the stage for the show’s most memorable moment. The stage lights shone down upon the now soaked crowd and on the picturesque vision of raindrops pouring down on anywhere the light touched as the band joined the crowd in singing their smash hit “We Are Young” in unison. The voices outside drowned out the band’s frontman as he marveled in awe down at the band’s adoring fans. An all out rousing version of “Some Nights” and show closer “Stars” were sure to follow, but during that one moment in time, the band Fun. had this crowd and this city within the palms of their skilled hands. The entirety of the band’s performance puts in perspective what a truly talented trio Fun. is and shows but a glimpse of what they are capable of, just two albums into a promising and lengthy career. But their authentic wonderment at the band that they’ve become, is no surprise to us. They’re simply, just that good.
- Jane Van Arsdale