By Sara Spangler, Contributor, DC Music Live
Returning to just north of their hometown in Maryland, O.A.R. played to a nearly packed house at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Friday, August 10. This follow-up to their four-night “Extended Stay” run at 9:30 Club in DC was mostly comprised of old fan favorites, and very few tracks from the band’s latest album “King.”
The show opened with “The Wanderer” which led almost immediately into “Night Shift,” both from the band’s 1999 release, “Souls Aflame.” O.A.R. brought their usual infectious energy on stage, seen most obviously in the horn section as they swayed side to side dancing on their platform throughout the show.
Being essentially a hometown gig, O.A.R. included “Black Rock” and “I Feel Home” in their setlist, to which the crowd erupted into cheers. Lead singer Marc Roberge and lead guitarist Richard On took to the audience to sing a stripped-down version of “I Feel Home,” high-fiving the crowd on the way to and from the stage.
Within the first few opening numbers the Maryland crowd was treated to a solo from Evan Oberla on trombone, and a bluesy saxophone solo by multi-instrumentalist Jerry DePizzo. Donning shades for much of the performance, On tackled several electric guitar solos throughout the show, and at one point trumpet player Jon Lampley even brought out his sousaphone for a solo. Mikel Paris filled out the reggae-inspired band’s sound nicely on keys and backing vocals, and also took the spotlight with a few solos of his own.
“About Mr. Brown”, “Hey Girl”, and “So Moved On” were also among the old favorites played. A slow, acoustic intro led into “About An Hour Ago”, accompanied by Roberge’s signature freestyling. The group also debuted a brand new song among the oldies, which Roberge mentioned had only been completed hours before the show.
O.A.R. opted out of leaving the stage at all before an encore, in order to play to the crowd as much as their time constraints allowed. Roberge and Paris started off the would-be encore with a heartfelt “Over and Over,” and the band rounded out the night with their most well-known track “That Was A Crazy Game of Poker,” working in a cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.”
O.A.R.’s newest album “King” is available to stream on their website at http://www.ofarevolution.com/newalbum.