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Concert Reviews:
Steely Dan digs deep for Fox Theatre show
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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ROCHESTER HILLS -- One Republic’s brand of upbeat pop-rock cleared the stormy skies over the Meadow Brook Music Festival on Saturday, July 27, as the group performed following two Michigan-born opening acts.

Tony Lucca was the first up, playing a solo acoustic five-song, 25-minute set. The Pontiac native, who now resides in Waterford, appeared on “The Mickey Mouse Club” during the 90s and achieved greater fame during his 2012 run on “The Voice,” where he was second runner-up and signed to judge (and Maroon5) frontman Adam Levine’s label. His songs “Never Gonna Let You Go” and “Pretty Things” were lightweight and acoustic, while he switched things up with folksy covers of Mouse Club mate Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby, One More Time” and a sing-along performance of Jay –Z’s“99 problems.”

Ann Arbor native Mayer Hawthorne followed, asking “Are you guys having fun out there? It stopped raining, you can’t ask for much more in Michigan” and then offering up a spirited set of soul-pop. Clad in white pants and navy jackets – yacht attire -- Hawthorne and his band, the County, brought a vintage vibe to the stage. A cover of Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” nodded to the ‘90s, while his own songs “The Walk,” “The Stars are Ours” and “Back Seat Lover” were reminiscent of Motown. “Her Favorite Song” and “Reach Out Richard,” a song about Hawthorne’s father, slowed things down soulfully to close out the 45-minute, 12-song set.

Silhouetted behind a large white sheet, One Republic performed “Light it Up” to kick off it hour and 45- minute, 16-song set. Dressed in all black, the band danced around stage under diamond shaped lights, while video clips played in the background to add a cinematic vibe.

“Six hours ago I didn’t have a voice. I’d like to thank the doctor who shot steroids in me. I think it’s going to be a kickass show,” frontman Ryan Tedder told the audience, and he sang strong throughout the night, adding vocal improvisations throughout the set despite having caught “whatever is going around.” “Secrets” opened with the track’s trademark viola solo by Zach Filkins, while performances of “Apologize” and “Stop and Stare” brought a more melancholy mood. A good-humoredcover of Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” spotlighted Tedder’s rap abilities, and energetic performance of “Good Life” featured heavy electric guitar and a sample from M-53’s “Midnight City.”

Lighted, transparent beach balls were thrown across the stage during the encore, synchronized to “Life in Color,” changing to shades of blue, red and green during the song’s chorus. The globes were thrown to the audience during “If I Lose Myself Tonight,” and the requisite confetti showe reas launched as the group played the title track from its latest album, “Natives.” “We’re gonna be back again,” Tedder promised the audience – which was certainly happy to hear that.

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