Nate Ruess Beyond Fun

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Nate Ruess, more easily recognizable to most as the front man of the Grammy Award-winning indie pop band Fun, played at the KIA Theater on January 19 to an audience packed with college kids and a handful of people in their 20s.

Of course, we all know Fun – that band who brought the world “Some Nights” and “We Are Young”, which have become solid anthems of youth, in all its dreamy wonders, a few years back. Currently, the band is put on a hiatus after a mutual agreement by the members who each chose to pursue a solo career for the time being. Nate Ruess, now stands firm as he pursues a solo career as The Grand Romantic, a title he chose for his album and pretty much for himself.

Living up to the name, Ruess is quite frankly, a romantic and hell, he’s grand at it. His music pulses with lofty melodies and palpitating beats, laced with his characteristically vibrant vocals. Meanwhile, his lyrics border on stinging melancholia (“Harsh Light”, “Nothing Without Love”) to euphoric optimism (“AhHa”, “You Light My Fire”). The Grand Romantic sounds every bit as something you would play as an accompaniment to a solitary, silent evening and something that you could blast in a road trip. In such contrasting degrees, it works.

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Nate Ruess brought that contrastingly colorful energy in his music, and amplified it tenfold during his live set in Manila. His album is vibrant by itself, but wait until you hear it live – Ruess just unleashes a completely different layers of hues and textures to his sound as he performs. He totally sounds amazing live. His vocals rises above the instrumentations and the orchestrations in the background, his pitch unfaltering as he sings his heart out in every song.

Halfway through the show, Nate, who was visibly thrilled with the cheers of the audience, took his time to speak: “I’m just so freaking excited to be here. This is freaking crazy. I never thought I’d get to come here. But now, I get to play a concert in front of you guys and you guys are amazing, so thank you!”

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The setlist was a brilliant concoction of his new songs, to Fun classics and a serving of nice covers. It started thunderously with “Great Big Storm” followed by the calmly upbeat “You Light My Fire”. Ruess also performed covers of “Let’s Go Crazy” originally by Prince and “Rocket Man” by Elton John. His previous compositions were also highlighted as he played “Oceans”, a song he wrote from his previous band The Format and “Just Give Me a Reason” which he wrote with P!nk. Then, of course, Fun classics such as “Carry On” as well as show clinchers “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” found their place in the set.

Nate also has a good sense of humor. “I wanna talk about the PBA finals,” he blurted out after performing the crowd starter “Nothing Without Love”, much to the amusement and surprise of the crowd. He continued, “No, seriously, I’m obsessed with basketball and one thing I knew about the Philippines is that (it) is all about basketball. Basketball and golf – they’re the only two things I actually care about!” As if to clinch the deal, “And so if you guys ever need someone to sing for the Philippine national singing team, think of me.” Nate pointed a finger to himself, flashing a big smile to the crowd.

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Seeing Nate Ruess perform live was beyond fun – “fun” as in the actual word ‘fun’ and “Fun” as in the band. Stepping away from the shadow of a band with such an influential image is not easy. He is able to at least distinguish himself from being just that guy from Fun. His music, as vibrant and endearing as it is, is something that leaves a more lasting impression than your typical ear candy. Ruess has only started to pave his way as a solo artist and slowly, he is setting his ground. If you aren’t familiar with his music yet, go and give it a try. It might just brighten your mood and change your mind.

Special thanks to Wilbros Live

View Nate Ruess Live in Manila Photo Gallery

By Sandra Laureano

Nate Ruess: Live in Manila Setlist
Grand Romantic (intro)
Great Big Storm
You Light My Fire
Carry On – fun
Let’s Go Crazy –Prince cover
Oceans – The Format
What Is This World Coming to (ft. Beck)
Nothing Without Love
Just Give Me a Reason – originally performed with P!nk
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to be a Long Long Time) – Elton John cover
We Are Young – fun
Harsh Light
Some Nights


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