March 25, 2017 - 2:42pm
Comprised of singer-songwriters Ian Axel and Chad King, A Great Big World took the stage Thursday night to perform stripped-down versions of their songs for their hometown audience at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC’s Greenwich Village. The concert “truly [felt] like a homecoming show,” King said, as the pair met and formed their band while they were attending the Steinhardt School at NYU, just down the street from the venue.
They embarked on their An Evening With Ian & Chad tour March 17 in Annapolis, Maryland, and are making their way through the northeast and Toronto until they conclude in Minneapolis at the end of the month. Before the show, Billboardcaught up with them to let fans know what they should expect. “We’re going on this tiny tour because we wanted to give something special to our fans while we’re working away. We want everyone to hear the songs the way we wrote them: in our living rooms,” says King.
They truly delivered: With just a grand piano, some little percussion instruments and a few guitars, the duo sang their hearts out to a packed room. Axel played piano for most of the show, while both sang; King chimed in with miscellaneous instruments, even whipping out a triangle for their musical-theater-inspired song “Cheer Up.” While the duo played most of the show on their own, they did have a small rhythm section (electric guitar, electric bass, percussion) come onto the stage for a couple of songs, and they featured their opener, Allie Moss, on a few tunes as well.
A highlight of the night was when each of them played a song solo. King was up first, picking up an acoustic guitar, laughing and saying, “I- I- Uh… This is a song,” and proceeded to perform a tender rendition of “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else.” Axel put on a very passionate solo version of the duo's Billboard Hot 100 top-five hit “Say Something” (which featured Christina Aguilera in the original), moving many audience members to tears.
The two of them were not shy in sharing personal stories and the inspiration behind their songwriting. Before “Won’t Stop Running,” King shared that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007 and was given seven years until he became fully paralyzed. They wrote the song as inspiration for anyone struggling, leaving the audience with encouraging words: “Even on a cloudy day, the sun is still shining.”