Fridays are the best day of the week, always, but a Friday that includes scoring last-minute concert tickets? That’s absolute heaven.
And heavenly Gavin DeGraw was, kicking off the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon weekend with a stellar Red Hat Ampitheater show after warmups by the Jason Adamo Band and Marc Scibilia.
A singer/songwriter with a voice reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen, Scibilia’s cover of Dancing in the Dark was a poignant reminder that Springsteen is skipping over NC on his tour to fight the controversial #WeAreNotThis HB2 legislation.
Scibilia’s understated act was the perfect setup for DeGraw, a showman. An excellent pianist, DeGraw thoroughly enjoyed himself on stage, the pure joy of engaging the audience evident in his sly grin as he pointed the microphone toward the crowd. Weaving in lyrics we were belting out at the top of our lungs1 between his singing, DeGraw deftly made each one of us feel like a part of his on-stage magic.
Maybe it was the general admission seats that put everyone in such a good mood, or that the rain stopped just in time for the show, or his “Hey Carolina, I think I love you” line, but of the seven or so shows I’ve seen at Red Hat it was easily the most enthusiastic crowd participation I’ve witnessed.
Channeling the look of a young Bruce Willis during his Moonlighting days, DeGraw’s hat and casual attitude were the perfect mix for Red Hat’s laid-back atmosphere under the stars with Raleigh’s skyline as a backdrop. He went old school throughout the night, successfully blending Billy Joel’s upbeat Big Shot and a brilliant version of Paul McCartney’s Baby I’m Amazed to contrast his hits, including I Don’t Wanna Be.
“I don’t want to be
Anything other than what I’ve been trying to be lately
All I have to do
Is think of me and I have peace of mind
I’m tired of looking ’round rooms
Wondering what I’ve got to do
Or who I’m supposed to be
I don’t want to be anything other than me.”
A few people in the crowd went old school too, actually waving lighters instead of the ubiquitous cell phones.2
DeGraw ended the night with Bryan Adam’s Heaven effortlessly blending into his own Not Over You,3 giving up just enough space for a girl in the pit to scream out “I love you Gavin!” in the quiet.
Think a lot of Raleigh feels the same way. We don’t want you to be anything other than you.