Live: Nate Ruess at Webster Hall
Nate Ruess has one helluva voice, that’s for sure. The fun. frontman and newly solo artist released his debut solo record earlier this month and fans devoured it, as was evident at his sold out Webster Hall gig this past week. Over 1,000 people came out to support Ruess and the tunes from Grand Romantic, with more than half the crowd having already memorized the new tracks.
Walking out on stage with six band members alongside him, Ruess dove headfirst into his set with “Great Big Storm,” showcasing structure and stylings that are omnipresent in Ruess’s writing. While his band fun. is currently on hiatus, Ruess broke out their smash hit “Carry On,” acknowledging the music that allowed him the opportunity to write a solo record. “I got stuck in LA making most of this goddamn record,” exclaimed Ruess. “And with that said I am fucking happy to be back in New York. Thank you. Four songs in and it's already the best show I've ever done.” Before launching into Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” the vocalist informed the crowd, “This is a cover song. It's as good as it's ever gonna get. Sing along, dance along, do whatever the fuck you want."
“It's almost been ten years since The Format played Webster Hall,” said Ruess, reminiscing about his first band. “There was a really bad lyric. The lyric was, ‘Why can't I trust anyone? No, not even me.’ That's just bad rhyming,” joked the lyricist. “To prove I graduated and got better, this is a song I did with Beck.” Sadly, “What This World Is Coming To” featured no guest appearance from this year’s Album of The Year Grammy winner.
After performing Grand Romantic’s lead single “Nothing Without Love,” what came next was quite a treat. With only piano accompaniment, Ruess began singing the words and melody to his duet with P!nk, “Just Give Me A Reason.” Taking a momentary breather while screams of encouragement and pure joy emanated from the audience, Ruess took over P!nk’s vocal duties. “What's the key?” Ruess asked of his pianist with a face-splitting grin. “I really wanna hit this note. I gotta hit it for New York City.” The crowd roared in appreciation as Ruess belted out the high note that starts off the line, We'll come clean.
A cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” was well received by the older generation filling Webster Hall while the next one, “We Are Young” brought on the nostalgia. “We got more, so you better just go crazy,” announced the singer. Stomping pop-punk second single “AhHa” incorporated the line It’s for the best you didn’t listen from “Some Nights,” foreshadowing what was to come. The third fun. song of the night rounded out the first encore, but the crowd wouldn’t let Ruess leave. Returning to the stage, Ruess paid homage to The Format, ending the evening with “She Doesn’t Get It.”
By Jennifer Boyer