Concert Review: OneRepublic’s India Debut Was a Mixed Bag
The American pop-rockers’ Mumbai show would have been flawless with a more streamlined set list
What surprised us most during OneRepublic‘s Mumbai debut on Saturday was how many of the band’s songs we inadvertently seemed to know. Thanks to the excessive airplay the band has managed in their heyday, every other lyric and hook sounded familiar even if we couldn’t always recall the song title.
The American pop-rock band made their much-awaited India debut on April 21st. While there was expected social media thrill at the announcement of the show last month and the days leading up to it, the attendance at the concert itself told a different story. We were bracing ourselves for an overcrowded rock show but when we arrived at around 7:30pm (right when Mumbai-based opening act ONEmpire were finishing their set) the venue was roomy enough for us to perambulate freely. It did fill up a little more by 8:30pm when OneRepublic finally took the stage, but awkward patches of empty spaces remained. Blame it on the low-key marketing or the last-minute venue change from BKC’s MMRDA Grounds to Mahalakshmi’s NSCI. All the same, it was heartening to see a diverse crowd–families with kids, boisterous college students, professionals arriving straight from work in loosened ties.
Guitarists Drew Brown and Zach Filkins, bassist/cellist Brent Kutzle and drummer Eddie Fisher were the first to appear onstage but fans were craning their necks to catch a glimpse of frontman Ryan Tedder. He burst onto the stage moments later with “Stop and Stare,” the group’s 2007 single that cemented their stardom, before launching right into 2009’s “Secrets.” The group kept firing hit after hit, pouring energy into their set with the dynamic “Kids” and emotional “Good Life” before Tedder finally stopped to address the audience with a cheerful ‘Namaste!’ He went on to declare, “The last three days have been nothing but sheer magic and nothing can describe the experience we have had in India! Shukriya!”
The show continued with “Wherever I Go,” “Better” and “Feel Again,” and while there was a dip in the crowd’s enthusiasm around this time, it didn’t stop Filkins from showing off his prowess on the drums on the anthemic “Better.” Kudos to the band’s unwavering spirit on stage despite being presented with a rather chatty, selfie-obsessed crowd– a chunk of which even had their backs to the stage. Tedder’s flawless falsettos and ad libs deserved better.
The band managed to woo the crowd back by pulling out a series of covers; Tedder took to the piano with Beyonce’s “Halo” and Ed Sheeran’s “Happier” before performing Avicii’s 2013 global breakthrough single “Wake Me Up” as an emotional tribute to the producer who passed away the previous day at the age of 28. As the screens displayed Avicii’s photograph, the crowd burst into cheers and tears, bidding the star a final goodbye.
“All The Right Moves” did wonders to brighten the mood again, as did Tedder’s many ventures to the pit in front of the stage to interact with the crowd, which lost it when group began the intro for the 2007 hit “Apologize.” The sound of hundreds singing along with Tedder was deafening and you only had to look around you to witness the power of nostalgia; frenzied fans jostled and competed to get the best view of the band for that perfect Instagram video while others sang the chorus at the top of their lungs.
— Riddhi Chakraborty (@thisisridz) April 23, 2018
After playing two more tracks (“Rich Love” and “If I Lose Myself Tonight”) OneRepublic took a quick break before returning for an encore performance of “Counting Stars”—the crowd had taken up chanting their demand for the 2013 mega-hit single and the band had to oblige. Silver confetti added to the drama of it all and everything seemed to be winding up rather well when suddenly, the band added one last song: “Love Runs Out” from their 2016 LP Oh My My. While the track is a lively one, many in the audience looked confused and a bit disappointed—how could the band end the show with a comparatively obscure number!
In terms of production, sound fell short—at most points the audience seemed much louder than the band and there wasn’t much focus on Kutzle’s brilliant solos on the cello. The visual setup was bare bones with two big screens on either side for audiences at the back, but managed to impress us with stellar stage lighting; spotlights were arranged in a pyramid shape behind the band and made for vibrant blends of colored light, particularly during “Wherever I Go,” “All The Right Moves” and Tedder’s solo moments at his piano (which was also illuminated from within.) The frequent flood of light on the audience also created the illusion of an intimate gig.
While OneRepublic’s India debut was largely exciting, it wasn’t without its dull moments when we wished we’d rather stayed home. But we have to give it to Tedder for really working the crowd—as if flaunting his Hindi wasn’t enough, he wore a T-shirt that said ‘#SouthBombaySnob.’ We’re sure the burbies weren’t complaining.
Photos courtesy of DNH Media