Photos by Randall Vasquez
Even if they haven’t put out any new music in a while, OneRepublic can draw a crowd. The pop rock group has spent the last nine years steadily making solid pop rock hits and has collected a serious fanbase along the way. And, thanks to a rare, beautiful night in the rain-soaked summer of 2017, the fans were in the mood to have a good time.
OneRepublic is somewhat of a hit making machine and the same could be said for show openers Fitz and the Tantrums. Preceded by a short set from newcomer and British X-Factor winner, James Arthur, the Los Angeles band came out to dazzle the masses with their fun, lively brand of indie-pop. Their sound and style draws from all the best parts of ‘80s pop, with synths, saxes and energetic singers who beckon the crowd to get up on its feet. Starting with their hit Out of My League, the band rolled through a set filled with the catchy, synth-driven tunes that are Petri dishes for earworms. Lead singer, Michael Fitzpatrick recalled their first show in Toronto at the Mod Club, underscoring the distance the band has come. They covered the ‘80s classic Sweet Dreams and offered new songs (like the latest single, Fool) before finishing up with mega-hits Hands Clap and The Walker – both of which served to energize the audience.
In the downtime between sets, an army of workers filled the stage with an elaborate lighting rig that seemed to contain more wattage than any one band could possibly need. The sun had just set when OneRepublic made their appearance. The first two songs were played with simple staging and lighting, allowing the band to remind people why they trekked out to Ontario Place on a Saturday night. Stop and Stare was followed by Secrets and more and more radio staples came as the evening progressed. The stage show had a familiar retro feel with a laser show that created veils and webs of light.
The six man band does its brand of rock very well. With so many hit songs in their catalogue, there was no end to the stream of singable songs, but singer Ryan Tedder is so prolific a songwriter that one band cannot hold all his tunes; he has written for, or with, countless other pop stars. On this evening the audience was treated to a few of those “other songs” including Halo (Beyoncé) and Happier (Ed Sheeran). The band then came to the front of the stage for a quieter, acoustic moment as they sang Come Home, inspired by a friend of Tedder’s who served several tours of duty in the Middle East.
OneRepublic is able to replicate its sound remarkably well live with the richness of cellos, fiddles and collective drumming adding to the overall effect. In the wake of the day’s horrific events in Charlottesville, Tedder made a statement about racism before playing Rich Love. He revealed that he’d grown up surrounded by closedminded bigotry and that it’s never okay. The rainbow of faces in the Canadian crowd understood. The last song of the main set was If I Lose Myself which ended with Tedder launching himself into the crowd, venturing to the edge of the lawn and back.
The three-song encore, not surprisingly, featured Counting Stars which not only invited the audience to light up the night with a smart phone generated blanket of twinkling ersatz stars, but also allowed the band to show off a little pyrotechnic flare through the “take that money, watch it burn” refrain. OneRepublic then brought Fitz and the Tantrums back out and wowed with a song co-written by Tedder and Adele, Rumour Has It. The last song of the night was Love Runs Out, yet another radio-friendly popular song in the long list. When all was said and done, Tedder rated the night “a 10 out of 10”. On a perfect summer night down by the water, the fans did too.