Every day hundreds of thousands of people pass through the World Trade Center Oculus, a transportation and retail focal point of lower Manhattan. Saturday night, O.A.R. took it over with a one-hour acoustic performance of fan favorites with the help of their sponsor, Bose.
A great live band, O.A.R. have an infectious energy and their message is undeniably positive. This version of the band was lean, with front man Marc Roberge, lead guitarist Richard On, and Jerry DePizzo on guitar and saxophone, but the acoustic guitars, sax solos, and belting vocals had no trouble filling the large space. Ticket winners were treated to an area with temporary walls to comfortably hold them in, but with an open space that allowed those inside a view of the wonderful architecture of the Oculus, while those passing though the hub were able to view the show from the 2nd floor.
From the opening notes of “Shattered” (Turn the Car Around), the band effortless weaved through new songs, such as “I Go Through”, and old classics, such as “Hey Girl”, as if they were singing them for the 1st time; the same passion was there throughout. Marc mentioned how he walks through the space all the time, but usually with his headphones on and singing to himself, not to a large crowd. It was clear the location, in part, made this a special night for the band.
Hearing these songs performed acoustically was a first for me, I’d only heard them as a full band. Marc has a powerful, but very clean voice, you can hear the words and their emotions as he sings. Richard is such a good guitarist, and his playing is crisp. Jerry’s sax solos brought the energy level up even more. The three players are all accomplished performers.
Some additional highlights included “Heard the World”, “Peace”, “Heaven”, and “Love and Memories”. “Night Shift” was an added song at the end, but prior to that they played the cards-flinging crowd favorite, “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker”, which everyone danced and sang along to.
Marc was very interactive, chatting with the crowd all night, and appreciative of the sponsor and all the fans who came out. The crowd, in turn, helped keep the energy up, with the super-fans singing along with the songs when called for, filling in the gaps, and cheering on the band. For those who weren’t as familiar with their music, I’m sure more than a few walked away as new O.A.R. fans.
Written by: Ron Louie