As part of the RAW tour, Gavin DeGraw embarked on his most intimate set of shows to date. The singer and pianist was joined by a drummer, bassist, and acoustic guitarist for a soul/rhythm and blues inspired take on his hits. The artist appeared without an opening act and played 22 songs at his sold-out October 27th show, from his 2003 release ‘Chariot’ to his most recent album, 2016’s ‘Something Worth Saving.’ DeGraw’s band and songs were not the only ‘Raw’ element of the show at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, N.J. The singer further emphasized the laid back vibe of the tour by trading in his usual fedora for a baseball cap.
DeGraw proved himself to be an engaging host and bandleader. He told several stories about writing songs during the concert, evoking the feel of an episode of VH1 Storytellers. Leading into ‘Stealing,’ he described writing the sing for friends in Nashville to record. After realizing he had no friends in Nashville, DeGraw recorded the song himself. During ‘Best I Ever Had,’ the singer held out his microphone to the audience, getting each lyric of the chorus sang back loudly, leading into the bridge, which includes a list of states. During ‘Annelee,’ DeGraw stood up from the piano during the song and walked the front of the stage, snapping his fingers to the rhythm of the song and making motions to match the lyrics. He also made jokes, including an apology to all of the guys that were dragged to the show by the women in their life after absentmindedly saying they liked a song by DeGraw. This joke was followed up by DeGraw’s self-proclaimed anthem for single people and the single at heart, called ‘Run Every Time.’ When DeGraw was singing ‘She Sets the City on Fire,’ he waved out three small girls to come out from backstage to dance with him. Amid a chorus of ‘aww’ from the audience, the former ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant twirled the girls while he sang.
The show included several covers of DeGraw’s favorite songs and artists. He honored the recent passing of Tom Petty with a version of Petty’s 1989 song, ‘I Won’t Back Down.’ He also treated the crowd to Paul McCartney’s 1970 song ‘Maybe I’m Amazed,’ complete with the driving piano solo. The artist also played Sam Cooke’s 1964 classic, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come,’ which he first covered on his ‘Chariot Stripped’ disc. DeGraw explained becoming inspired by 60’s jazz music as a teen after being gifted the records by the owner of a boxing gym where his brother trained. His final cover of the evening was Ray Charles’ 1963 song ‘Halleujah I Love Her So,’ another song from his record collection.
Many of DeGraw’s songs lent themselves to the small quintet sound. The singer took a new perspective on ‘Sweeter’, speeding it up to sound less hard rock and more like a jazz standard. Conversely, the ballad ‘Lover Be Strong’ was sped up to a driving rock beat. The band opened the show with DeGraw’s first album’s title track, Chariot. Other songs from the 2003 album were part of the set, including ‘Follow Through’ and ‘More than anyone.” The artist chose a new encore for this tour, Chariot’s most well-known song and the theme to TV’s One Tree Hill, ‘I Don’t Wanna Be.” In closing the show, DeGraw described growing up in a small town where as the child of a prison guard, he befriended the children of other guards, correction officers, and inmates, many of whom he is still close with today. He then thanked his family and friends from upstate New York for being in the audience of this show.
Additional dates for the RAW tour can be found at www.gavindegrawtour.rtouring.com/.