Music Reviews — 14 August 2014
Gavin DeGraw Slays a Sold Out SummerStage

Gavin DeGraw

A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
SummerStage, Central Park, New York, NY
August 13, 2014

Concert Review: Gavin DeGraw at Central Park

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Despite being tapped for the opening slot residency during Billy Joel‘s monthly New York shows at Madison Square Garden, Wednesday evening Gavin DeGraw teamed with singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson for a sold out show all his own. The SummerStage at Central Park was the site where the sound of thousands of screaming women filled in any silence between songs as the fedora donning crooner rocked through a fifteen song set replete with crowd favorites and catchy singles from more than a decade in the limelight. Touring in support of October’s “Make a Move,” his fifth full length album, DeGraw has harnessed his immense musical ability in meticulously creating a live show that continues to appease larger and larger audiences- and his showmanship was on full display on this night.

Though the grand piano was setup in front of the stage, Gavin DeGraw emerged at a standing microphone amid a sea of screams. Backed by large illuminated video boards and four backing musicians, the singer’s 75 minute set watched him alternate between traipsing across the stage ostentatiously and sitting traditionally behind his 88 keys. But through and through, there was never a dull moment during his performance which kept even the locals who brought picnic blankets to the outdoor setting, up on their feet and dancing all night.

Opening with the declarative “Leading Man” was a fitting choice, nicely amping up the crowd upon DeGraw’s arrival to the SummerStage. A flurry of fog and lights meshed together around the singer who strategically paced back and forth, rhythmically bouncing to the upbeat track’s every drumbeat. Standout singles like “Chariot” and “Sweeter” brilliantly followed suit as we got our first glimpse of DeGraw behind his trademark piano singing toward his fans in the first few standing rows. Teases of covers from U2′s “Where the Streets Have No Name” and Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl” were pleasant surprises in between the melodic “Follow Through” and “Soldier,” which had the entire audience capably providing backing vocals.

Unsurprisingly, the fast paced “Best I Ever Had” received a tremendous response and the sea of hands clapping overhead was certainly a sight amid the outdoor setting. Closing out his main set with his first ever single “I Don’t Wanna Be” was equally as revelatory with DeGraw allowing the crowd to handle much of the singing. Following a brief encore which allowed the band a momentary breath, title track “Make a Move” and “Not Over You” appropriately closed out the entirely entertaining evening in stellar fashion. Gavin DeGraw has spent the better part of ten years writing relationship songs about break-ups and re-ups and despite the subject matter, his concerts always seem to evoke a certain jocular element in the crowd. Just face after face filled with smiles, courtesy of an established artist with undeniable staying power that performance-wise, just seems to be getting better and better.

Read our previous rundown of Gavin DeGraw’s show from the Best Buy Theater on December 11, 2012 here.

- Jane Van Arsdale

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