How could the crowd at University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts not go wild with this line up? With Rozzi Crane, Parachute, and Gavin DeGraw, the audience was bound to see them shoot and score on each of these acts.
Rozzi Crane opened the evening in total darkness as she belted out the notes to her first song. The strong and emotive voice made the audience sit up and take notice immediately. As the spotlight came on and her silhouette was outlined, each member of the audience sat there agape. This huge voice and soulful sustenance of a jazz great was in the body of this petit young lady. One would expect to see the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, or Etta James up there; instead, the voice that resonated this sound came from Miss Rozzi Crane. As I sat shooting photos, I could hear those around me saying , “Who is that?!” A star was born that evening to the audience in Buffalo. She continued with an ease as though she had been in front of an audience her whole life. Her level of comfort on the stage and with the crowd demonstrated that the stage was her home away from home. As her set ended, she invited everyone out to her merchandise area to do a meet and greet. Either getting there too early or too late, I didn’t get the chance to speak to her directly, but I did talk to one of her crew members. As she mentioned during her show a connection with Adam Levine, I asked about the details of how she was discovered. He shared how Adam Levine of Maroon 5 heard her through a Youtube video that had been shared with him through a mutual friend and immediately signed her to his new label. Touring with Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson in 2013 was only the beginning to this amazing young lady’s journey. She definitely has a “Voice” to listen for big things in the future. One word to describe Rozzi, soulful.
Next up was Parachute. The band is a group of five musicians who have known each other and played together since high school and college. To me, they are one of the most talented, versatile, and best kept secrets around today. Members, Will Anderson (vocals, guitar, piano), Johnny Stubblefield (drums), Alex Hargrave (bass), Kit French (saxophones, keyboards, vocals), and Nate McFarland (guitar, vocals) have a knack of creating the most relevant songs.
This five-piece truly are a group of amazing musicians, however, I believe it’s their songwriting skills that sets them apart from everyone else. They have the ability to connect with their listeners on a different level. They have the ability to take real life events, add a score of music that is amazingly perfect for the feel of the song, and share it in a way only they can. When I tell you their crowd loves them, they literally rushed the stage the minute they came on. And what makes this even more special was the way the group embraced them, by slapping hands along the stage, going out into the audience to sing, and brining the audience up on stage to dance with them during their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” number.
These guys love what they do and it’s apparent to those that love what they do. One word to describe Parachute, consummate.
Setting the bar for the evening so high with his two amazing opening acts, only Gavin DeGraw could come out and rock the audience into even more of a frenzy than they already were. There’s just something about Gavin DeGraw that I can’t put my finger on that makes this man legendary. Is it his humility at being able to share his passion with the audience? Is it his remarkable sexy voice that draws one in? Or could it be his bewitching smile and sense of humor that mesmerizes you? It’s probably the combination of all of these traits, along with his amazing talent and will to share his passion in music, that makes him a super star. Gavin has the ability to come out and perform for an audience like he’s singing just to you. Covering many shows over the years, this was my second opportunity to see Gavin perform. The audience of fans consisted of a smorgasbord of individuals from all walks of life and age groups. This demonstration of variety clearly shows how legendary he has become being able to entice so many.
Touring this year for his fifth album Make A Move, Gavin performed numbers from the album like “Leading Man,” “Best I Ever Had,” and the album’s cover song “Make A Move.” In addition to that, he played some older favorites and new music recently written together with his band, Billy Norris (Musical Director, guitar, and background vocals), Ian O’Neill (drums and background vocals), James Cruz (bass), and David Maemone (keyboards).
The crowd’s new favorite though was clearly his song “Finest Hour,” co-written with Ryan Tedder. He also performed a killer cover of Adele’s “Rumor”, but it was his cover of his musical inspiration, Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman/Where You Are,” that brought the crowd to their feet. Performing alongside Billy Joel recently at Madison Square Garden, Gavin described how the pivotal moment was a dream come true as Billy Joel was the catalyst for his decision to become a performer after seeing him at a show during the 90’s. His journey was not an easy one without bumps in the road, however Gavin overcame many obstacles to achieve his dream and is truly an inspiration to all that have followed his career. As he performed “More Than Anyone” a ballad from his first album Chariot, it only took one verse for the crowd to take over and sing the song for Gavin.
I can’t image how that makes a performer feel when the audience loves your music so much, they will serenade you. One word to describe Gavin DeGraw, sincere.
It was truly a pleasure covering this show as a reporter and photographer as one feeds off of the energy in the crowd. The energy of this crowd was off-the-charts-crazy with love and admiration for all of these artists. This definitely was a hat trick for the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts and the fans that attended. One word for the show, outstanding.