South Carolina's NEEDTOBREATHE captivated a large audience at Rupp Arena Wednesday night during a stop on its Tour De Compadres road trip supporting the band's newly released sixth album, H A R D L O V E.
The audience was fired up after a trio of opening acts, and its loud cheers reached the ceiling as the lights rose revealing NEEDTOBREATHE.
The quintet started its set loud and with a lot of energy while playing “Great Night” off the new album. Singer and band co-founder Bear Rinehart’s expansive voice filled the venue and he urged the audience to sing along with him.
“I promise, I’ll give every ounce I have to you,” Rinehart called to the audience after the opening song, “only, if you do the same for me.”
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The band slowed things down after three rowdy songs playing “Difference Maker,” a single from its 2014 Rivers in the Wasteland release. The crowd’s energy didn’t waver, however. Before “Difference Maker” had strummed out, NEEDTOBREATHE catapulted the mood by playing their two newest singles back to back; “Happiness” and “Money & Fame.”
By this time, the entire audience was on its feet, singing and dancing with the band.
Introducing the band, Rinehart warned younger brother Bo Rinehart was “the most dancious” of the group.
Bo proceeded to dance every chance he got, including an Elvis style finger wag during “Don’t Bring That Trouble.”
Unplugging Seth Bolt’s bass, Bo Rinehart’s guitar, Josh Lovelace trading his dual keyboard set up for a humble shaker and Bear Rinehart leaving his mike behind, the four gathered at the edge of the T shaped stage to be closer to the mass of bodies on the floor and played a stripped-down version of “Oh Carolina.”
The foursome’s harmony carried though the room, but was quickly drowned out by the cheering fans as the band returned to the main stage.
NEEDTOBREATHE ended its performance with a mash up of The Killers’ “Drive All Night” and its own “All These Things That I’ve Done.”
As the lights dimmed afterwards, the crowd was quick to demand an encore that Bear Rinehart happily supplied with a piano medley that included “Be Here Long,” “Don’t Wait For Daylight,” and “Something Beautiful.”
The lights dimmed once more and the audience got what they really wanted from the encore: The band’s break away radio hit “Brother” that featured all the members of the opening bands.
The 53 city tour also had support from Mat Kearney, Parachute and Welshly Arms as opening acts.
Welshly Arms, native of Cleveland, featured a loud, full of bass sound that propelled the singer’s soulful voice up into the rafters of Rupp Arena. The more boy-band sounding Parachute followed and got the crowd’s lips loose as they sang along to the poppy melodies.
The professional and well-rehearsed performance of Mat Kearney seemed tame in comparison to the first two acts but, like the Cats whose floor he was on, Kearney’s set picked up in the second half and even offered a dance off between him and bassist Phil Moore, which turned out to be a preview of things to come.
Jordan Simonson: @JordieLee.