By Belinda Huang
It’s rare nowadays to come across artists who are as raw and real on stage as they are on their records, so it’s no surprise British alt-pop duo Oh Wonder mesmerized the sold out crowd at Paradise Rock club last Saturday night with what everyone craved—authenticity.
The duo, comprised of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, made no attempts of being flashy; rather, they dazzled the crowd with humble ease. They were concluding their North American Tour debut with their last stop in Boston, and kicked off the show with “Livewire,” the first song off their debut album. Cheers exploded as nearly everyone in the room sang along to every lyric. They followed with slow grooving songs “Dazzle” and “Shark,” which had everyone in the room captivated and moving to the beat.
Vander Gucht played keys with such an effortless grace and West displayed his chops on electric guitar, while being backed by bass and drums. To my pleasant surprise, the duo sung just as in sync with each other on stage as on their record, no small feat for only touring together since last September. Song after song carried such a golden simplicity. There weren’t complicated layers upon layers of sounds, which is common for electronic music nowadays, yet their simplicity and genuine vibe carried an infectious energy you couldn’t help but love.
About halfway through the set, the air shifted in the room. “[The next song] is a song we wrote about persevering and having faith in yourself—not just doing what everybody else does,” Vander Gucht began. “It’s [about] the importance of carving your own path and not just kind of existing. It’s an anthem for living and doing everything and being yourself.”
As she explained the inspiration for their next song “All We Do”, a reverent silence swept the room. It was a rare moment. It was authentic. It was what everyone needed—to feel something real. All throughout the night, Oh Wonder shone transparent. From this moment forward, the audience reflected that transparency. Guards were let down as the room resonated with the lyrics, “All we do is play it safe/All we do is live inside a cage…I’ve been upside down/I don’t wanna be the right way round/Can’t find paradise on the ground.”
The rest of the show flew by like a dream. They played crowd favorites like “Landslide” and “Without You”, and as they closed the night and left the stage, the audience begged for “one more song!” They came back and played an encore, as everyone moved to “Technicolor Beat” and made their own personal connections with the music.
It was truly a special night for everyone. While West exclaimed during the show that playing in Boston was “saving the best for last,” it was Boston that got a taste of one of the best that night.
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