fun. Live at Orpheum Theater

When New York power pop rockers fun. arrived in Boston last night, over two thousand fans flocked to the Orpheum Theater nestled in downtown’s theater district. The crowd, that ranged from 20-somethings to parents accompanying their fun.-loving teens, piled into their seats at the sold out show. The house lights dimmed and the audience roared as opener Andrew McMahon (Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin) took the stage.

The tone of the night was nostalgic as McMahon began. McMahon has had a lasting friendship with the fun. trio since they accompanied him years ago when he was touring as Jack’s Mannequin. McMahon filled his opening block with his sweet and catchy pop rock ballads. Finally hearing “Dark Blue” live, years after the track left my iPod rotation, filled me with such a child-like rush of familiarity that I couldn’t help but smile and sing along. McMahon has always been a sweet and sincere performer; last night was no exception.

Five years ago, devout fans of The Format found out that the band’s journey was coming to an end. Nobody knew where lead singer and frontman Nate Ruess would land. Within a week of The Format’s break up, Ruess teamed up with former bandmate Andrew Dost and fellow musician Jack Antonoff (Steel Train). Together Ruess, Dost, and Antonoff began fun. Now with two albums under their belts in addition to six Grammy Award nominations, fun. is on a roll.

After a brief intermission after McMahon’s set, the house lights dimmed once more and gave way to fleeting spotlights on a semi-sheer curtain that covered the stage. A dramatic drum roll began to build momentum as a projector revealed a huge three-dimensional logo for the band. The entire house began to roar as the trio stampeded onto the stage with raised arms and grins from ear to ear.

Without a second to spare, Ruess took to his microphone and kickstarted the set with purple strobes and an unbridled level of energy. Some top opening tracks included “Why Am I The One” off of the 2012 release Some Nights and “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)” off of 2009’s Aim and Ignite.

While I am often critical of the Orpheum Theater because of it’s formal style and it’s lack of floor space for dancing – I found that the setting somehow worked for fun.’s show. Ruess and his crew pulled out some more theatrical elements with their constantly changing backdrops, use of a two tier stage setup placing touring drummer Will Noon on a platform high above the rest. The backdrops changed throughout the set from a giant Some Nights logo surrounded by a purple haze to a vivid rubik’s cube-esque pattern and eventually a mellowed starry sky. The Orpheum’s stadium style seating ensured that everyone had an unobstructed view for the entirety of the night.

Ruess has made quite a transition from The Format to his current and incredibly positive and empowering pop rock anthems. Highlights included “It Gets Better,” “All Alright,” and “Carry On.”

At the end of the set before closing with the hit single “We Are Young” that launched fun. into the forefront of everyone’s eyes and ears – Ruess transitioned into a high-voltage rendition of “What The F*ck.” From beginning to end, the every voice in the theater was belting out Ruess’ lyrics along with him. Several times during the night, Ruess put down his microphone and just beamed with delight as he heard his own words echoing throughout the 160-year-old theater.

The audience raved, yelled and stomped the floor to get the band back on stage in hopes of squeezing just a few more songs out of the night. To everyone’s delight the trio leapt back on stage, Ruess bouncing around like a jumping bean now wearing a Celtics jersey. A thundering performance of “Some Nights” followed by “Stars” brought the night to a final farewell.

Ruess is a true pleasure to watch on stage, his energy flows so naturally and captivates like no other. While I’ve seen many charismatic and joyful frontmen, Ruess stood out so clearly to me last night. With that certain “it factor” that I still can’t place my finger on – he makes a lasting impression. Everyone who was at the Orpheum last night will remember his infectious, euphoric nature and count down the days until the next Boston show date is announced.

By Jeeyoon Kim

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