Gavin DeGraw preformed Thursday at the Toledo Zoo amphitheater.
Gavin DeGraw and Matt Nathanson have been friends for years, but Thursday’s performance at the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater highlighted how different the singer/songwriters’ personalities are.
In energizing the crowd for DeGraw, Nathanson was an equal mix of music and comedy.
DeGraw, however, was more businesslike, performing song after song and keeping the chatter to a minimum.
He even alluded to their differences a few songs into his set, telling the audience, “I have so much to say, but my speech is so boring, we are just going to play some songs.”
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DeGraw began his set with “Leading Man,” and quickly followed with “Chariot,” “Sweeter,” and “Heartbreak.”
With five studio albums and several singles reaching top 25 of the pop chart, DeGraw has a strong fan base that was increasingly energized with each song.
He mixed in covers, including U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” and an entertaining and upbeat rendition of Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl.”
Gavin DeGraw plays the piano during one of his songs. Matt Nathanson opened for the crowd of several hundred.
DeGraw’s soulful performance was especially strong on “Follow Through,” “We Belong Together,” “Soldier,” and his latest hit, “Best I Ever Had.”
DeGraw wrapped up his set with a boisterous rendition of “I Don’t Want to Be,” the song that introduced him to the pop listeners in 2004.
The 15-song set lasted just an hour. The fast pace of the show left the audience demanding more, and he returned for an encore with “Make a Move” and “Not Over You.”
Nathanson, who has nine albums under his belt and yet has had minimal radio play, played 13 songs over an hour-long set.
Though he clearly had a core group of fans in attendance, who sang along with tunes such as “Car Crash,” “All We Are,” “Kinks Shirt,” and “Wedding Dress,” DeGraw was the main attraction in Toledo.
But Nathanson did more than enough to emerge from DeGraw’s shadow.
Though much of his music is mellow and even melancholy at times, Nathanson kept the audience engaged by encouraging sing-alongs to upbeat cover songs, including Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody,” George Michael‘s “Faith,” and even “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease.
He gained recognition from some audience members when he performed “Run,” a song on he which he gained radio play while sharing vocals with country group Sugarland.
In an interview ahead of Thursday’s show, Nathanson mentioned that his latest single, “Headphones,” gave him a chance to “wander.”
And wander he did.
He guaranteed a standing ovation when he walked off the stage and freely continued through the sea of fans and didn’t stop until he made it at least two-thirds up the bench seating area.
By the time he finished his set with his 2007 hit “Come on Get Higher,” Nathanson had won over at least a few new fans.
Though different in the their approaches, DeGraw and Nathanson – along with opener Mary Lambert -- gave the audience what it wants from a concert – an escape from routine and solid musical performances.
Lambert, the Capitol Records artist who sang “Same Love” with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, kicked off the music with a 30-minute, six-song set. The Toledo show marked her last performance on the tour, and she seemed absolutely thrilled to be part of it. During her performance of “She Keeps Me Warm,” she said it was inspired by her work on “Same Love.”