ONEREPUBLIC / SARA BAREILLES @ RED ROCKS | 8/29/13 "Fuckin' Coloradans really love their music," marveled OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder last night at Red Rocks, summing up a windswept evening of music from his band and co-headliner Sara Bareilles. Though Tedder's outfit was last to take the stage, the group took it with a commanding presence, starting off strong with "Light it Up," before moving swiftly into "All The Right Moves," and then queuing up "Stop and Stare," which was followed by "Counting Stars," highlighted by Zach Filkins's Spanish guitar intro. Then came a red neon piano for a stripped-down version of "Apologize," in which Tedder tipped his hat to U2 and "Sunday Bloody Sunday."
Tedder got tender and personal sharing the stories behind the songs "Come Home" and "Preacher," the first about a newly-engaged friend being deployed to Afghanistan, and the latter a tribute to his grandfather who was "a million miles from million dollars/But you could never spend his wealth."
The shake of the tambourine turned the amphitheater, for a moment, into something like an old-time tent revival. And then came "Golddigger," a spectacle of a Kanye West cover, heavy on the Ray Charles, which not only featured Tedder rapping, but served as a rhythmic palate cleanser from the pop-sensibilities on display all night.
Tedder (exclaiming, "They're going to have to drag me off the stage at this point") and company closed their set and the night with a rousing encore that included "Feel Again," for which he thanked all those that downloaded the song and helped to raise $750K for Save the Children. OneRepublic's percussive trademark sound and Tedder's vocal prowess were still on full display with the closing numbers "Life in Color," and "If I Lose Myself."
Sara Bareilles's set rocked Red Rocks in a different way, namely with melodious vocals and her self-proclaimed foul mouth. From the opening chords of "Once Upon Another Time," in her Aspen-style fringed suede, and backed by her Robert-Palmer-suited band, Bareilles made it abundantly clear that this show, her first time performing at Red Rocks, would not be the last.
Bareilles swung directly into her next songs, "Eden" and "Cassiopeia," the latter accompanied by ginormous cymbals, two cellos and a ton of swearing. (Bareilles apologized for what she called her "trucker mouth," saying that she'd "seen a doctor, and there's nothing they can do about it.")
Keep reading for more on last night's show
At a show that might have been expected to be piano-heavy, Bareilles surprised by not tickling the ivories until her fourth song "Many the Miles." The guitar solo performed by guitarist Rich Henry broke up the feel of the song and set nicely. Her voice and the guitar cut through the wind at a rapid pace, prepping the crowd for her big hit "Love Song." With only a couple of chords played, the entire crowd knew exactly what song this was and started to sing along.
Break-ups were definitely a theme during her set, to which Bareilles attributed to her own recent split. From the anthem "Little Black Dress," which she noted had never before been performed live before, to her relatable and gorgeous ballad "Manhattan," her smooth voice brought heartbreak to Red Rocks. Bareilles drove the point home in her hit "King of Anything," which she dedicated to "all those girls who have douchebags in their lives."
For much of Bareilles's set, the strings were heavy and moody, offset by her often-brassy voice and presence. Her set was like a two-drink minimum; she was cracking jokes left and right, even making herself giggle in the middle of her encore, "Chasing the Sun." Still, somehow, it felt intimate, and the crowd ate it up.
Earlier in the evening, Serena Ryder got things going and set the stage nicely for the night. The girl has had a big week. Aside from playing Red Rocks for the first time, apparently she'd just signed with Capitol Records two days earlier. Pretty good for a girl from Millbrook, Ontario, the population of which she mentioned was a fraction of the number of people in the stands.
Ryder had three guitar changes in the first three songs she performed, including her recent hit "Stompa." Her voice in all of her songs was as full of grit as the Morrison wind. Ryder mentioned that her song "Mary Go Round" was based in part on her experiences with clinical depression, but that music had the power to heal and to save us. "Music is the best medicine," she exclaimed.
Personal Bias: I'm a sucker for Manhattan and heartbreak anthems. Random Detail: This was the first show of Sara Bareilles and OneRepublic's co-headlining tour. By The Way: Don't open your mouth and sing along while the wind is prematurely blowing the confetti out of the cannons. Just saying.