Standing outside the O2 ABC in Glasgow, at 5.30pm, beside a queue of fans already waiting to get into the venue, two hours before the doors were opening. I’d been told to turn up at 5.45pm for a 6pm interview, but being me, queen of panicking, I had to be early to being early.
I had absolutely no reason to be panicking though. As I was led through the empty venue towards the dressing rooms backstage, every team member and crew member I passed said hello; either in a broad Glasgow accent, or a distinctive New York accent (sorry Glasgow, but I’ll always be more excited over the latter.) I sat in a dressing room behind the stage listening to the band sound checking, it was a bit surreal, after having seen many bands and artists playing on that very stage.. who else had been sat in that little room, moments before they’d taken to the stage, with me standing in the crowd below? Gavin DeGraw was going to be the next person I watched perform on that stage; and I was lucky enough to be catching up with him beforehand.
Gavin had gone for a “wander around” (which I was soon told is a “cute” Scottish term; who knew?!) but when he arrived, he was one of the nicest musicians I’ve had the pleasure of talking to. He’s extremely down to earth, and is very grateful to be doing what he is doing.
After much deliberation over whether or not I pronounce my own name correctly (apparently I say “Jane,” not “Jen” – although I’m still not entirely sure how I’m supposed to say it…) we grabbed a seat next to the window to make the most of what we could of the warm sunny Sauchiehall Street air, and had a chat about Gavin’s past experience playing in Glasgow, his most recent album – Something Worth Saving, which was released in September last year (if you’ve not listened, it’s available on Spotify and Apple Music – I’d HIGHLY recommend), his approach to setlists and of course, that track that was picked up by One Tree Hill producers.
Have a listen to our chat *HERE* ! (you can pick out the band sound checking in the background at certain points too – the whole situation was a bit surreal.)
Post-interview selfies happened and then Gavin took me through to the stage, and showed me his set up for the gig, which consisted of his grand piano, a drum kit for drummer Michael Baker and a double bass & guitars for Billy Norris. All pure, live music, nothing pre-recorded and no laptops or machines; “It’s all about the music.”
For being forced to postpone his previous two nights you would never have known that Gavin DeGraw had had strep throat/laryngitis from watching his performance on Wednesday night. He came on stage to cheers and screams from every corner of the room, sat behind his piano and got straight to business, with a massive twenty-four song, two hour long set list to get through, which he managed with ease and without a wobble. As someone who’s world ends for at least a week at the sign of a slight head cold, I, along with the other four people I was with, was amazed.
Starting with “Chariot”, a favourite for everyone, from his 2005 debut album of the same name, Gavin hit out with incredible tracks from the start to the end of his set – album tracks, and big hits all going down an absolute storm, including tracks from his most recent release.
Personal favourites of mine; “I’m In Love With A Girl” and “Kite Like Girl” being played back to back had hands in the air and ‘sing along at the top of your voice’ reactions from the crowd, and as Gavin expected, “Say I Am,” also from the latest release, got a huge reaction; such a gorgeous track.
Anecdotes between certain tracks had the crowd listening intently, giggles at their comedic qualities were heard from even the middle aged man standing beside me. “Something Worth Saving” is definitely worth saving, and not “Something Worth Throwing Away” as Gavin’s ‘music industry friend’ thought that critics would take the opportunity to label it as…
Giving double bass player Billy Norris his time to shine, the trio play a cover of George Michael’s “Faith,” which led straight into “Annalee” and got the crowd bopping along. Gavin also played a couple of tracks that inspired him at the beginning of his career; one from Sam Cooke and another from Ray Charles – both insanely good covers.
Reappearing for a two song encore in a kilt lead to the classic Glaswegian chant of “here we, here we, here we fxcking go” and lots of hilarity. Turning back to his piano and captivating everyone all over again with “Dancing Shoes,” the crowd settled into waves and swaying.
As promised, Gavin ended his set with the track that “paid his college tuition” and a special moment for any One Tree Hill fans in the crowd. “I Don’t Want To Be” had the crowd singing louder than any that I’ve heard before.