For a critic, a goodly part of watching Fun perform is trying to figure out just which vintage power-pop artist they most resemble. Over the course of their joyful poolside set, I scribbled down several such candidates in my notebook: REO Speedwagon (during the power ballad “Why Am I the One?”), the Bay City Rollers (in multiple instances) and Haircut One Hundred (when singer Nate Ruess took the stage in polo shirt and pegged khakis). Near the end of the show, I settled on “Men at Work covering Cheap Trick,” and I was contented.
While there’s very little about Fun that’s original, there’s a lot about them that’s good—and every one of those qualities rose to the top during their energetic and well-paced show. Ruess is a natural and generous front man with a keen awareness of what his audience wants from him and exactly when to give it. When he called for a sing-along, the audience was ready to sing—and when he ran into the crowd, during “All the Pretty Girls,” the audience was ready to receive him. It may not sound like such a big deal, but a number of singers don’t have that good a sense of timing.
The rest of the band hit their marks with similar accuracy. Guitarist Jack Antonoff, bassist Nate Harold, drummer Will Noon and multi-instrumentalists Andrew Dost and Emily Moore all performed well, and Ruess made a point of letting every one of them take the spotlight at one point or another, because, I suspect, his mama brought him up right.
Really, Fun had but two obligations when it took the stage: to perform faithful versions of their hits, and to live up to their name. They did these things, and they gave more on top of that, proving that a rock ’n’ roll band doesn’t always have to be radically different from that bands that came before it. It can be enough to simply jump, smile and perform songs that make you happy. That’s how Men At Work did it, and they’ve still got fans. ★★★★☆