When Adam Gardner and Ryan Miller broke into the first harmony during the What You Wish For opener, the audience at Guster’s 25th band anniversary – Beacon Theatre NYC concert roared with applause and sang along. To stay true to the anniversary-themed occasion, the band decorated the lobby walls of the Beacon with old posters and other scrapbook memories of the powerful musical growth of the band with an enormous influence in modern folk rock.
The set continued with a newer song Gangway, and then they performed a rocking version of Manifest Destiny. Staying true to the brilliant and poignant songwriters they are, the set flew by with upbeat choruses and sing along lyrics. Ramona was next, which fitted well in the set order, sandwiched in between Manifest Destiny and another classic Guster song, Backyard. After the two-song Keep It Together era streak, they played Bad Bad World and Never Coming Down before pulling out a fan favorite Happier, a song that always gets the crowd raging.
Next they performed Doin’ It By Myself from their 2015 release Evermotion, which was followed by That’s No Way To Get To Heaven from Easy Wonderful (2010). The peak energy moment of the night was during the jam of the classic Come Downstairs And Say Hello. This is probably the peak energy moment at every Guster show. The excitement that pierces through the room during the build up of this song is truly a one of a kind concert experience.
After Do You Love Me and Empire State, they closed out the set with a streak of sing-along fan favorite tunes All The Way Up to Heaven, Mona Lisa, Airport Song and last but not least the classic hit Fa Fa. There’s an indescribable urge to sing along that takes place when you hear this band perform live. Something in the chemistry of the music and lyrics is very welcoming to veteran fans and first time Guster listeners. As the band kept pacing through solid, energetic two and half to three minute folk anthems, they began to wind down with an extended encore beginning with the aptly titled Long Night. After an improvised jam they played a heart-warming rendition of Satellite into an uplifting, aggressive paced Barrel Of A Gun.
To finish the night with the amazing, powerful concert vibes they delivered an ending streak of older songs. Parachute was absolutely beautiful and Demons burst back into the louder Guster energy. The absolute final energy of the night was definitely balanced with the stripped back acoustic So Long and the not so heavy rhythmic stompin’ Jesus On The Radio. It’s hard to leave a Guster concert unsatisfied. Although your voice might be froggy the next day from singing too hard and your legs might be sore from dancing your feet off, the ounce of positivity and happiness gained from being a part of the Guster experience is worth all of it.
Scott J. Herman