A guitar, a drum kit, double bass, piano and one man with an immense voice – these are the ingredients for a perfect Thursday night. Limelight 1 was filled to capacity as Belfast welcomed Grammy Award winning artist Gavin DeGraw for the first time. Playing an acoustic set, Gavin gave a truly mesmerising performance.
The night kicked off with the title track from the hit album ‘Chariot’. As the distinctive first notes played they were met with a rapturous applause from the audience. Moving on to ‘Radio On’, followed by ‘Crush’ the crowd became louder with every song. Gavin played with a huge smile on his face his face demonstrating he was truly grateful for such a welcoming reaction. After a brief pause to say hello to the crowd, the pace was slowed down slightly by ‘Nice To Meet You Anyway’.
Next up was ‘The Best I Ever Had’. This was instantly a crowd pleaser. The album version is one of those songs that you crank up when it comes on, it’s fast paced and fun. I was slightly worried about how this feeling would transfer across to an acoustic version. However, as the first chords rang out my worries disappeared. Immediately, the crowd began to cheer and dance. This song really brought out the fun, outgoing personality of DeGraw as he danced around the stage singing dressed in his signature hat and quirky polka dot shirt. The performance of this song was great and showed that Gavin was up for having a good time and he genuinely enjoyed what he was doing. Lucky for him so were the audience.
Being a multi platinum selling artist, Gavin DeGraw has a host of hit songs. Most of which he played during his performance. However, having them stripped back to their most simplistic form was stunning. A highlight of the night was when he played a newer track ‘Something Worth Saving’. The song is classic ballad and perfect to play acoustically. The performance really showed off DeGraw’s vocal ability and as his voice swept throughout the room, the audience became transfixed.
Throughout the night Gavin stopped to tell us various stories about his songs and how his albums came to be. He told us of personal stories and those who influenced him to become the artist he is today. At this point in the night he did two cover tracks. The first was Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ which was a remarkable cover. With every note he sang his voice became better and better. The second was Ray Charles’ ‘I Love Her So’ which the audience loved. It felt like Gavin was giving us a glimpse into his journey and for a brief moment the barrier of audience and artist was gone.
At the end of his set Gavin and his band thanked the audience and left stage. However he had yet to sing the one song everyone was waiting for. After a short break, he returned to stage, kicking off into ‘Dancing Shoes’. Before singing the next song, Gavin addressed the crowd about where he came from and his hometown, stating he “wanted to be more than a prison guard’s son”. At the mention of these words the crowd went wild as he ended the night with the hit song “I Don’t Want To Be”.
Gavin DeGraw is so much more than “that guy that sings the song from One Tree Hill”. His songs speak for themselves. Paired with emotive lyrics and outstanding vocals, he is an artist with immense talent. As far as live performances go he is enthusiastic and interactive and clearly wants to give the audience his best. The acoustic set really created something special. Within the intimate setting of the Limelight, the piano and low lighting it was a really relaxed vibe. Almost like he was performing for us individually. As Gavin said his goodbyes, the lights went up and we left the venue there was a sense of awe throughout at what we just witnessed.