Last Friday night at the Tabernacle, it seemed as though Ben Rector enjoyed his time in Atlanta almost as much as the engrossed crowd enjoyed his soulful performance.
The 26-year-old musician based out of Nashville, Tenn., originally wowed Tabernacle listeners less than two years ago as an opener for alternative and Christian rock band Needtobreathe. Now, after the release of his fifth studio album—The Walking In Between—last August, Rector electrified a nearly sold-out crowd at Creative Loafing’s 2010 “Best Concert Venue.”
However, he did not do it alone. Tyrone Wells, who boasts an exceptionally similar acoustic sound as Rector, served as the opening act. The Washington-based singer/songwriter has released a total of ten studio albums since his start in 2000, and his popularity has been continually boosted by features in various television shows and films including Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, The Vampire Diaries and Something Borrowed.
Wells began the night with an assortment of calm melodies and love tunes, including “You Make the World Beautiful,” “Running Around in my Dreams” and “Sea Breeze.” His set concluded with an undeniable crowd-pleaser, as he performed a “Top 40 Medley” featuring Lorde’s “Royals,” Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” and Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive.”
After a brief intermission in which the subsequent set was assembled and Wells graciously mingled with fans at the sales counter, Rector instantly revived the crowd with a powerful performance of “Ordinary Love,” the opening track from his latest studio album. Throughout the evening, he effectively blended more recent tunes with tracks from his 2010 album Into the Morning—including favorites such as “When a Heart Breaks” and “White Dress”—and his chart-topping 2011 album “Something Like This.”
Ultimately, Rector’s tactic is a common one, focused on emotional lyrics and piano-driven strains. However, truly unexpected moments provided some of the highlights of the show; a pinnacle point in the night came when Rector broke with his typical soft and dreamy love songs and played a buoyant and dance-worthy rendition of “The Beat,” continually prompting the comfortably relaxed crowd to clap and dance.
Before presenting the appropriately conclusive song of “Let the Good Times Roll,” Rector jokingly informed the audience that he and his band had pre-planned an encore and would be returning to the stage for two more songs—so, as he stated, “Act surprised!”
Sure enough, the night concluded with a few verses from “Sailboat” and a fantastically spirited cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” which he also performed at the Needtobreathe opener.
Ultimately, Rector’s tactic is a common one, focused on emotional lyrics and piano-driven strains.
Besides providing impeccable vocals with seamless clarity and exciting performance qualities, both Wells and Rector exposed their down-to-earth personalities and witty, self-deprecating senses of humor to the audience through the critically important moments between songs. Plus, charity was another theme throughout the night: Tyrone Wells announced his dedication to the International Justice Mission, sharing an anecdote and promising to devote a portion of proceeds to the cause, before belting out the fittingly emotional yet inspiring lyrics of his song “More.” Likewise, Rector also announced his allocation of 100% of concert CD proceeds to charity; it was truly a night of giving.
Although the duo’s Fall 2013 tour is only halfway over, both Ben Rector and Tyrone Wells have bigger plans for the future. Like Rector’s rise to fame, Wells announced that his next journey through Atlanta would feature him as a headliner. Rector, on the other hand, was featured in his first live television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this month, and his fame only seems to be persistently rising. Big things seem to be in the future of both acts, and thankfully so.