At some point this spring, be sure to find yourself standing in a line to take in some Fun.. All puns aside (first and last one), you'll be experiencing a band that is on the verge of making the leap. You could even argue that they already have. Granted we’re not at the RBC center, capacity 21,500. We’re in a cold line outside of the Cat's Cradle, capacity 750, in Carrboro, NC. The air ducts are exposed, the tickets taken by hand, and the best seat is whatever you can weasel your way into. The phrase "I saw them when..." comes to mind with this band. You're seeing a band that is asking $20 a ticket, but not because they’re on the clearance rack.
The setlist Saturday night had a perfect balance of their most recent album Some Nights (7) and their 2009 release, Aim & Ignite (7). Most bands would shy away from starting a show with a song from their 11-day-old release, but Fun. jumped headfirst into a high energy, high audience participation song. The lack of instruments for the first couple bars of "Some Nights" forced an impromptu vocal warm-up for everyone in attendance. Despite the song not even reaching the ripe age of two weeks, everyone knew (sang) the lyrics. This would be a theme that continued with all 7 songs off the nearly released Some Nights album.
Accordingly, if you are familiar with the vocal range of Nate Ruess (listen: "All Alone" or "Barlights") you should be ready for 750 additional Nates trying to hit the upper octave right along with him. The vain on the side of his neck will pop (http://alturl.com/nptxn)...and so will theirs. I'm not discouraging anyone from belting out "But it's not time, you've never quit in all your life" from “The Gambler”, I'm just alerting those with sensitive ears to the inevitable. Thankfully the acoustics at the Cat's Cradle along with the traditional head facing forward, concert posture drowns out most of the chalkboard nails.
Further along in the set, the violin and accordion on "Be Calm" were replaced by the piano (Andrew Dost) and acoustic guitar (Jack Antonoff). Rhythmically it would seem like a difficult song without a steady beat, but with Antonoff and Dost taking turns anchoring, the three made it work well for one of the more relaxed portions of the evening.
Andrew Dost has a number of duties during the course of the night’s set. From tickling the ivory on “The Gambler” to the occasion lift of a trumpet on “Barlights”, his talents helped to bring the studio album to the stage. Lead guitarist Jack Antonoff wasn't sporting his usual black-rimmed glasses, but even without them he was still able to focus (I cringed too) on appropriately hitting the 7+ pedals below his feet.
The three-song encore featured two songs from the new album and include the hip-hop influenced “One Foot”. Personally the song felt lost on the album, but it really came alive within the concert setting. The bow on the metaphorical concert package was “Take Your Time”. Live, it becomes a methodical 7 minutes of nicely woven waves of differentiating energy, quick builds and instrumental jams. The down beats had everyone pop-hopping and the polished sound of a well toured song brought the show to a satisfying close.
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