A banner saying “Eric Hutchinson is Pretty Good” was the backdrop for the singer-songwriter who took the ArtsQuest Blast Furnace stage on Saturday night. Hutchinson really sells himself short as the show wasn’t just “pretty good,” it was fantastic. Hutchinson, most known for his hits “Rock and Roll” and “OK It’s Alright With Me”, is a is a much bigger talent than the size of the stage he was on and the size of the crowd (my estimates put it at around 300 people, which for the Blast Furnace room felt close to sold-out). Hutchinson, surrounded by a 3 band mates, has a strong stage presence. He’s the type of performer who is just as comfortable playing in front of an intimate crowd as he is a bigger one. He talks and jokes with the audience all-night and you can tell him and his band just love to perform music which is large part of the appeal of an Eric Hutchinson concert. My favorite story of the night was when he talked about his first failed major record deal (the label closed up), but he turned that “failure” and reinvested himself on his own. That reinvestment would turn into his album “Sounds Like This” which was the highest charting album by an unsigned artist in iTunes history.
Eric performed all the songs you would want to hear such as “Rock and Roll”, “OK It’s Alright With Me”, “Watching You Watch Him”. The intimate crowd in the Blast Furnace had the floor of the room literally shaking when he played his biggest hits, that’s how much many of those in attendance got into the show. Eric also performed two new songs of his upcoming album Eric Hutchinson Is Pretty Good. One was a ballad, “Anyone Who Knows Me,” a bit of a departure from his previous songs, but a strong ballad none the less. The other was a song called “Alcatraz”, which Eric said was having its world premiere here in Bethlehem. Eric also brought back out his opening act Anya Marina for a duet of their song, “Ordinary Dude”.
Hutchinson, showing off his musical talent, switched throughout the night from playing guitar, to jumping on the keyboard, to just singing. The band also did so as well. Eric’s drummer got on the piano for the song “Forget about Joni”. Eric’s guitarist also switched to the piano during the world premiere of his song “Alcatraz”, showing off his instrumental diversity. Eric ended his main set by performing “A Little More” which featured a bit of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” mixed in.
The show ended with an encore that featured a cover of Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon”, which had the crowd singing. And the show ended with a high energy and stellar version of Eric’s most recent hit “Tell the World” (featured in a Microsoft Windows 10 commercial).
Those who have read my reviews before know I like to include a “If I had one complaint about the show” portion, so here it goes. I wish the show was longer. I liked the fact that between the opening act and Eric there was no break, but I wish Eric would have played a little longer. I put his set at around an hour, which wasn’t terrible, but for a band that seems to enjoy getting on stage and jamming, I wish they would have stayed longer (with maybe some more cover songs, since Eric does them so well).
Last summer, I saw Eric open up for Kelly Clarkson, and he stood out as an artist I would enjoy seeing a solo show of. I wasn’t disappointed with his show, and in fact I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Eric is a talented musician and entertainer who honestly should be “a lot bigger of star” than he is. Success in pop music is as much about timing as it is talent; and even if he never has a “hit” like “Rock and Roll” again, Hutchinson has carved out a very nice niche for himself as an entertainer and performer.
The opening act was Anya Marina, a singer-song writer based in NYC. Marina’s recent album saw Eric Hutchinson produce a few songs on it and she has had her music featured on Grey’s Anatomy and one of the Twilight soundtracks (something that she joked about). Marina performed some songs of her latest album and also an interesting indie rock version of rapper T.I’s “You Can Have Whatever You Like. Anya also runs a comedy podcast with friend/comedian Nikki Glaser, and it showed on stage. Anya held her own on stage joking around with the audience most of her set and she was very engaging.