This review originally appeared on the Orange County Register web site. I was actually delayed in turning it in because when I returned to my car from the show, I was detained by Downtown Disney police officers. Since I was eating a snack in my car out of a baggie before the show and then put several items needed to review the show in my coat pockets (notepad, pen, earplugs, etc.), they apparently thought I brought drugs (i.e. weed) onto the premises. I was frisked, had my license checked for priors and basically inconvenienced for 20 minutes. One officer reminded me of all the security cameras everywhere. Next time, if I want to avoid the overpriced bottled water and food at HOB, I think I'll walk to the area outside the venue and eat an apple or whatever in plain sight.
Where: House of Blues Anaheim
When: Jan. 29
For years, I’ve had people tell me what a moving experience it is seeing Tyrone Wells perform live. Last night, I finally got to witness his heart-on-sleeve sincerity firsthand.
The tall, bald singer/guitarist should be familiar to astute local concertgoers. He formed Dove Award nominated Christian rock band Skypark in the late-‘90s as a Hope International University student. Going the solo route earlier this decade, Wells was a mainstay at McClain’s Coffeehouse and the Plush Café in Fullerton. He put out three indie albums before signing with Universal Republic Records. The major label released 2007’s soulful Hold On. Nationwide radio airplay ensued, along with multiple placements in TV shows.
Latest album Remain, with Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz), Matt Scannell (Vertical Horizon) and other at the helm, arrived in stores last Tuesday. It’s a creative leap forward and lushly rocking affair thanks to a fuller band sound (two dozen musicians, including former members of Snow Patrol, OneRepublic and Evanescence) contribute.
Keaton Simons and Raining Jane served as openers. The latter female pop group from L.A. has collaborated with Mraz and utilized a sitar (!) onstage. The Mouse House was full, but not packed.
The three-piece band launched the satisfying 75-minute set with a funky “What Are We Fighting For.” Reverent Wells fans were treated to a major chunk of Remain. Earthy new rocker “Sink or Swim” recalled Del Amitri, while the gently chugging pace and watery guitars of “Enough,” had a distinct Snow Patrol feel.
Wells was relaxed; he said he was glad to be home, joked about the pervasiveness of “Twilight” books and told a few humorous stories (including the oft-repeated one about his days toiling at the OC Swap Meet).
“When we’re at the hardest place in our lives, we realize how important our faith is to us,” said the front man (whose father was a preacher), before a stark, solo acoustic “All Broken Hearts.” It was marked by repeated falsetto “hallelujahs.” The band really let everything rip on slow-building cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie” and got a rousing response.
Keaton joined on electric guitar for the sizzling, bluesy “Baby Don’t You Change” and a hushed “This is Beautiful” lived up to its name. Then Wells rewarded diehards with the Ben Harper-ish “Wondering Where You Are,” off his indie effort “Snapshot.”
Everyone sang along loudly to the enticing “Sea Breeze.” Wells talked about the sacrifices you sometimes make to live your dream and how he’s touched that the uplifting epic show finale “More” (whose refrain goes, “I’ve seen the great heights/Reminding me I’m alive”) has kept a few fans from committing suicide.
The song was heightened by Michael Kopulos’ chiming guitar work and Wells’ highly dramatic vocals. Halfway in, he segued into older tune “When All is Said and Done” and went back to the original. It ended with Wells leading the crowd in a chant and noting, “we’re here together and your life is a precious gift.” All told, an inspirational evening.