Oh Wonder at House of Blues

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Oh Wonder, a London-based band made up of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, returned to Boston Sept. 22 to promote their new album “Ultralife.” The show’s focus on human connections built an intimate relationship with the audience that is oftentimes hard to find with popular artists.

Seattle native Jaymes Young opened the show, appearing on stage to the cheers of audience members. His fifth performance in a row, he told fans he was “feeling a bit under the weather” after having “a little too much fun the last four nights, if you know what I mean.” Unfortunately, this translated into a subdued set that did not live up to its potential. Young also seemed flippant, making comments that belittled the audience, including discouraging fans from singing along if they did not have great voices. Overall, while he showed his strengths in vocal talent, the performance as a whole was disappointing.

After a short break, flashing red lights engulfed the stage and an electronic voice spoke out as Oh Wonder took the stage for their song “High On Humans.” The band’s charming quirkiness was evident immediately as the pair moved to the beat of the music they were creating. Their energy woke up the crowd after Young’s mellow performance and was something they continued throughout the entirety of their set.

After a few opening songs, the pair remarked on the size of the crowd. When they had first heard they were booked at House of Blues, they had thought it was mistake as they could not imagine the venue sold-out. They thanked the crowd for showing their support and for making “this not awkward playing for like, six people at the front,” as Vander Gucht said.

The duo’s chemistry was apparent throughout the show as they worked in harmony to create a performance full of vitality.

As the show progressed, the pair made sure to continue interacting with the audience. One of the best instances of this was when Vander Gucht introduced “All We Do,” a song about resolutions and the idea that people can change and become better versions of themselves. She used West and herself as examples, talking about how they each had the dream to be musicians and travel the world, but were discouraged by their friends and family.

“If anyone ever tells you you’re not a good enough person, screw them and make up your own freaking mind,” she said. “Never give up on becoming who you want to be.”

The highlight of their performance came with a surprise appearance by Vander Gucht’s brother William, who played saxophone during “Heart Strings.” A skilled player, he changed the sound of the song to make a much more jazz related piece that the audience loved.

Oh Wonder chose to end their set with “Technicolour Beat”, making use of lighting software to create a rainbow of colors on stage. After going dark for two minutes, the duo reappeared for an encore consisting of “Ultralife” and “Drive”, the latter being a song fans had been waiting for all night, for a satisfactory conclusion.

Header photo courtesy of Brian Bae of The Huntington News.

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