On Friday night (2/24), South Carolina band NEEDTOBREATHE sold out the Ryman for the second consecutive night on The Reckoning Tour.
Nashville native Ben Rector opened the show, warming the crowd up with his songs including “Never Gonna Let You Go” and “When A Heart Breaks.” He mixed it up a little, inviting the audience to help him make up the third verse for his song “Loving You Is Easy.” When he accepted the challenge from an audience member to sing the third verse about pickles, he made a deal with the crowd. “If this goes poorly – and it probably will – if you were thinking to yourself ‘Hey, I’m going to buy this guy’s CD and/or t-shirt,’ still do,” he teased. But his improvised act didn’t go poorly and the cheering audience was rewarded with a cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
While the audience was quick to show Rector a lot of love, nothing compared to the deafening applause when NEEDTOBREATHE took the stage. Their set included an intricate backdrop that resembled old school typewriter keys. The only thing visible when band members Bear Rinehart, Bo Rinehart, Seth Bolt and Joe Stillwell stepped onto the stage were letters spelling out “The Reckoning.”
The stage remained dim while the band opened the set with “Oohs and Ahhs,” but when they hit the first chorus, the auditorium was hit with bursts of blinding lights that sporadically lit up the stage and offered a brief glimpse of what was to come. The sneak preview approach worked. After the opening number, the Ryman became standing room only. Everyone refused to sit, afraid of what they might miss.
NEEDTOBREATHE’s straightforward continuous, back-to-back performances included the “Devil’s Been Talking” and “Drive All Night,” both of which were crowd pleasers. But after a few uptempo numbers, the band slowed it down with “Washed By the Water,” a track off an earlier album, The Heat. Although released five years ago, the crowd swayed to the song like they were dancing with an old friend and sang the lyrics back right back to the band.
A big highlight of the night was the performance of “Girl Named Tennessee,” which struck a happy chord, close to home, with the Nashville crowd. As the song played on, no one could help dancing along to the beat. The dancing continued as the night closed with the title track from the band’s 2009 album The Outsiders.
If you’re kicking yourself for missing this rocking show, don’t worry. Lead vocal man, Bear, promised the audience that the band would be back to perform in Nashville again. And, if Friday night was any indicator, Nashville’s gonna hold ’em to it.
[All photos by Caitlin Rantala]