I am going to be honest, I hadn’t listened to Ben Rector that much prior to shooting his show in Charlotte on Oct 27th. I knew who he was, yes, but his music just never seemed to click with me so I wasn’t really expecting much from this show. Luckily I can admit when I am wrong…
It’s hard for me to have a bad time at a concert in general so I feel like I give most shows a pretty good review but Ben Rector honestly blew me away. The most notable aspects of his performance were that one, he really is an incredible musician and singer, the way he interacts with the crowd, and he was able to tell stories and talk about certain things without taking away from the fact that he was there to play his music.
He is currently on tour with The Band CAMINO promoting his newest album, Magic, which was released on June 22nd of this year. While his set list consisted mostly of the new songs, he also included a mix of his hits and at least one song from each of his previous albums. He alsoincluded two covers during his set: Shania Twain’s “Still The One” which he introduced as going from “nice guy pop to 90s country” and Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” which he mashed up with his own “Let The Good Times Roll.” It worked surprisingly well! (I’ll include the full set list at the end of this post.)
Overall, it was a great mix of soft, slower ballads and upbeat piano pop rock which showed off the diversity of his discography well. One that stood out to me in particular was Forever Like That. The slide guitar was live and the guitarist did an absolutely beautiful job – it was so well done and having it live as opposed to tracked just took it next level.
Something I thought was really special about Ben was that he took the time after the second song to introduce each member of his band saying “people always wait to introduce them until the end but I want you to know them now…you know my name but I want you to know their names, too.” I really appreciated this gesture because not only does it show how much he values the people helping him make his music every night but it also is very telling of the kind of person he is. So kudos to Ben for that.
During several of the songs, there were photographs, videos, and clips from movies that I can only assume hold sentimental value to the artists projected to a screen behind the band. For example, during “Kids,” they showed the infamous John Cusack boombox scene from Say Anything (who he also references in his song “Brand New,” btw) as well as scenes from Lion King and other well known movies loved by kids and teens of his (my) generation. Also included were pictures of his adorable daughter Jane and he took a moment to tell the audience about how during tour rehearsals every time her picture would come up on the screen he would start crying so they told him he wasn’t allowed to look back at the screen during that song anymore so they could get through the song.
Like I said, the way he frequently interacts with the crowd without taking away from his music was refreshing and fun! Before one song (which I admittedly can’t remember which one) he made a point to ask everyone to take a second and put their phones away and to enjoy the song and the experience of being there.
“I’m gonna be honest with you – no one is watching these videos. Concerts are a live art form and we only get to experience this once together. It’s such a cool moment and it’s only going to happen in Charlotte once.”
So many bands and artists echo this sentiment as often as they can and I can completely understand why. First off, I’m sure it’s distracting and probably kind of disappointing for an artist to look out at a crowd and to be staring at thousands of cameras instead of faces. And secondly…they’re right. You really can’t enjoy the show AND take videos or pictures the entire time. There are shows that I have been at for the sole purpose of photographing and I’ll go back to write reviews and if I hadn’t written down notes I wouldn’t have remembered half of what happened because it’s so hard to focus on the show and taking the pictures. So listen to them, people! Put your phones away and enjoy the experience. You can listen to the album a million times but you will only see them play on that stage on that day during that part of your life ONE time.
On the same note but funnier…about halfway through the show, probably right after telling everyone to put their phones away for a second, Ben announced that he knows how hard it is to be away from your phone and to help with this they were going to take a two and a half minute “phintermission.” An intermission but to allow you to check your phone (and also for them to take a quick break I’m sure). They followed the phintermission with their Never Gonna Give You Up/Let The Good Times Roll mash up. A great way to get back into things, in my opinion.
The Charlotte show took place on Halloween weekend so several people came dressed up, though not as many as I would’ve expected. We were graced with Bugs and Lola from Space Jam, a dancing lobster, a wookie, Clifford the big red dog, Popeye the sailor, and Goose from Top Gun to name a few.
This show of the tour was sold out and absolutely packed. I was able to shoot some photos from the pit and then from the house but it was honestly hard to get from one side of the room to the other. So I finally found an awesome spot side stage where I was able to stand and get some really good shots of the drummer. He reposted one of them to his instagram and made it his profile picture so that was super cool. Ben Rector even commented on the same shot on my page asking for more photos. So huge shoutout to both of them. Check out all the photos from the show here!
So to wrap things up, I have nothing bad to say. It really was probably one of the best shows I’ve attended recently and Ben Rector knows what he’s doing. No, he’s not running around the stage throwing his body and instruments everywhere, but he doesn’t need to. He could sit at the piano the entire time and sing with only a spot light and the crowds would continue to flood in. I completely understand the why this show was sold out and would have no problem recommending attending a Ben Rector show the next time he’s in your area.
- I Will Always Be Yours
- Loving You Is Easy
- DUO/Two of Us
- Forever Like That
- When a Heart Breaks/White Dress (mash)
- Shania (Still the One)
- Never Gonna Give You Up/Good Times
- When I’m With You
- Old Friends
- Men That Drive
- Brand New