Audiences just wanna have 'fun.'
Many have suggested fun.’s hit single “Some Nights” is a melodic cross between Queen and The Lion King. Though no song can match “Bohemian Rhapsody,” fun. still put on a show worthy of Freddie Mercury’s approval at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion Thursday night.
The show opened with indie rock duo Tegan and Sara, who played a solid 55-minute set before closing with their hit “Closer.” The two sounded just as good live as on their recordings, and charmed the crowd with jokes and anecdotes between songs.
After a quick 30-minute transition, fun. came on stage with a surprisingly restrained entrance. Dressed in tuxedos, they sang their second album’s opener “Some Nights (Intro)” as black and white images of the band performing played out on the large screen over the stage. Then, with a quick change into more casual clothing, the group launched into the upbeat and loud “One Foot.” Lead singer Nate Ruess showed off his impressive pipes, even while sprinting and jumping around stage. Throughout the set, the band managed to maintain its energy and enthusiasm, sweeping the audience up in a fantastical cacophony of sound.
The set included songs from both of the group’s two albums. Though more recent tunes such as “Carry On” and “We Are Young” had the crowd roaring and singing along, the band’s talent really shined through on older tracks, such as “The Gambler” and “Barlights.”
Most impressive was the group’s showmanship. Confetti, an act usually reserved for the finale, rained down on the crowd only halfway through. At one point, Ruess and guitarist Jack Antonoff pressured pianist Andrew Dost to play the trumpet solo from the Paul Simon song “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” an endearing gimmick. Pulsing lights and bright graphics contributed to the high-energy feel of the show.
Surprisingly, the band ended the set not with a song of its own, but with a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” After a few moments of ear-splitting cheering, the group came back on stage to perform its biggest hit, “Some Nights.” They ended with the closing song of their second album, the inspiring “Stars.”
Nate Ruess and the rest of the band really connected with their audience as only true musicians can. After finishing their encore, the trio remained on stage, where Ruess spoke about how they’d visited Charlottesville three times on their two-year tour and always loved performing here. Finally, after leading the crowd on another reprise of the refrain from “Stars” and asking us to sing as if we never would again, the band made its well-deserved exit.
Singing the refrain “We’re always holding onto stars” with Ruess and thousands of other concertgoers was one of those truly wonderful moments when listeners feel totally and utterly immersed in the concert. Few bands can offer fans such a powerful, memorable or fun experience.