American singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw first found fame when his song I Don’t Want To Be was chosen as the theme tune for US drama One Tree Hill. Since then the song has gone on to be his signature tune often getting aired by contestants on reality singing shows such as American Idol. Over the last 10 years, DeGraw has released a steady stream of albums and is about to release new album Make a Move. He marked the occasion by playing an intimate gig at St Pancras Hotel in London on Thursday night.
Earlier in the day we interviewed DeGraw and he explained that he likes to mix his setlists with old and new material to keep the fans happy. He certainly did that during his set on Thursday opening with the title track to 2011 album Sweeter. The track has a strong beat and is one of DeGraw’s rockier songs. It proved to be the perfect opener as DeGraw’s vocals soared over his band and energised his fan-packed crowd.
Over the course of the set DeGraw performed 3 tracks from new album Make a Move including the title track, Who’s Gonna Save Us and current single Best I Ever Had. The new music is a progression rather than a reinvention and Best I Ever Had is a really good indicator of what’s to come. The up-tempo track has a thumping beat that drives the melody through and a very catch-chorus.
The rest of the set comprised of gems from his back catalogue including the heartfelt mid-tempo Follow Through from debut album Chariot, emotive piano-ballad Solider from 2011’s Sweeter and the punchy Not Over You which rounded off the evening. Our favourite moment came when DeGraw performed the title track from his 2003 debut album Chariot. The track has a bluesy undercurrent and really showcases the different sides of DeGraw’s vocal ability.
It was no surprise that the biggest reaction of the evening came when DeGraw sang I Don’t Want To Be. You may wonder if he ever gets tired of singing the song but he assured us he didn’t during our interview and he looked to be having the time of his life performing it on stage. The crowd knew all the words with a few enthusiastic fans almost audible from where we were standing.
Gavin DeGraw may never shake off the One Tree Hill association but the strength of his material really does speak for itself. As a live performer he’s energetic and interactive, much as he is in person, and knows how to hold the attention of the audience. The intimate surroundings of the St Pancras Hotel made the evening feel rather special and despite poor acoustics (which isn’t DeGraw or his band’s fault) the show was one that fans will remember. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that he’ll be back on these shores soon for more live shows once Make a Move has been released.