Live Reviews

One Republic: O2 Academy, Birmingham – 18/03/14

Adele, Leona Lewis, B.o.B and even James Blunt has called for help from One Republic frontman Ryan Tedder for his songwriting abilities over the years. But keeping hold of ‘Counting Stars’, one of 2013s biggest hits, catapulted his band One Republic back into the lime-light. The band are now touring the UK playing intimate venues throughout the UK.

The queues for the venue before doors opened stretched well around the Birmingham Academy venue; perhaps the first sign One Republic underestimated their support before arranging the tour. The sold out crowd were warmed up upon entry to the venue by emerging singer-songwriter Mikky Ekko. The American, who was back by a three piece band demonstrated his vocal range throughout the half hour the show. The crowd were clearly impressed by the singer, who’s solo-version of his Rihanna collaboration ‘Stay’ provided the first loud scream of the evening. Mikky is aiming to break the UK in 2014 and his recent single ‘Kids’ was received very well from the Birmingham crowd.

It was One Republic that everyone inside the packed venue were here to see. As lights dropped, five members of the six piece took to their positions for the ‘instrumental’ album track ‘Don’t Look Down’. As singer Ryan Tedder bounced onto the stage, the band quickly burst into ‘Light It Up’.  The track gave the first indication of the vast amount of staging; with a huge screen at the back of the stage providing excellent visuals and numerous square lights situated across the stage, as if floodlighting a football pitch. The set was mixed between all album content; 2009’s Waking Up ‘Secrets’ stood out from the early part of the set.

The loudest crowd response was for ‘Stop and Stare’; as Ryan’s incredible vocal was first on show. The set the started to chill slightly, starting with a piano version of debut hit track ‘Apologise’, the crowd shouted back the spine-tingling track word for word; as the track faded to close, the cheeky front man gave the webcam on the piano a thumbs up to the crowd, which was displayed on the big screen. The acoustic tracks didn’t stop there, as Native track ‘Preacher’ was “taken back to basics” as described by Ryan, as too was debut album track ‘Come Home’; which led to the crowd shining lighters and phones at the slow song. Special thought was taken for the show, a video accompaniment of various locations around the city offered a nice touch; stop-motion shots of the new library, Bullring and the crowd building outside the venue suited the song excellently.

As the band left the stage briefly, guitarist Zach Filkins took a Spanish guitar and played a Rodrigo Y Gabriela style solo. As the crowd clapped along, the rest of the band emerged to play the bands biggest song to date ‘Counting Stars’. The track caused deafening screams from the Academy crowd as Ryan bounced around the stage, spending most of the time on the speaker-stacks in front of the crowd. Once again, the cello returned for highlight ‘Au Revoir’. Whilst this wasn’t the set closer, its sound filled the venue as again Ryan stretched his vocals in impressive fashion.

The intimate venue was perfect for One Republic and this venue felt far too small for one of the worlds largest bands. This led to Ryan confirming the band will be back in the UK in October. Whilst he confirmed no further details; based on this sold out tour, it must be in arena venues. The evening wasn’t all about the music; before the encore, the giant screen played an ‘appeal’ video with One Republic during a recent Africa visit for Save the Children. The hard hitting video was both a reminder and also a thank you. The band returned to the stage to play the charity track ‘Feel Again’ with cheers from all around the crowd. The evening closer ‘If I Lose Myself’ summed up the evening perfectly. Confetti-canons sprayed the crowd who bounced along to the dance track, as Ryan and co. looked as thought they had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

It’s hard to imagine the thought process of booking a venue the size of the Academy for One Republic, however this intimate tour was outstanding for both staging and crowd interaction. Every song on the setlist was thought about and delivered flawlessly. For those who missed out for the show, be safe in the knowledge the band are returning – for those who managed to blag tickets, this was definitely an ‘I was there’ gig.

Samuel Litherland

Digital and Live Editor of Soundcheck. I am a huge fan of emerging new music. You can usually find me in a field over the summer.