Fitz and The Tantrums perform at 9:30 Club on Feb. 6, 2023. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Should you ever want to escape your troubles and spend a few hours cheerily kicking up your heels: Go to a Fitz and The Tantrums show.
Band frontpeople Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs recently led a sold-out 9:30 Club through a groovy romp dominated by a new album, Let Yourself Be Free, and it was indeed food for the soul.
Soul are what Fitz and The Tantrums are all about. On Feb. 6, the band opened their show with the very soulful and insanely catchy “Sway,” which served as a call to arms for anyone that wanted to dance the night away. Fitz himself was positively beaming as he took the stage and danced across the lip. On Fitz’s right, Noelle banged a tambourine and shook her hips in time to the beat. Fun arrived in a flash with “Sway’s” breezy singalong chorus.
Watch the official music video for “Sway” by Fitz and The Tantrums on YouTube:
Speaking of shaking your hips, Fitz and The Tantrums dedicated about a third of the show to the new album, including “MoneyMaker” at the concert’s midpoint. Although another song about dancing, the song has a wildly different composition, pace, and texture than other songs in their catalog — a testament to the band’s inventiveness. The number also gave Fitz and Noelle and great opportunity to sing together, and their voices really work well together.
Noelle was a sight to behold. She appeared as if a fully formed ideal of a soul singer from the same music gods that begat James Brown, and she never stopped moving all night long. She was bustling, shuffling, and downright stomping the evening away, giving life to the audience clamoring for a better view of her and the rest of the band.
And Fitz and The Tantrums are a great band in their entirety. I could write loads more about the two appealing and earnest frontpeople, but it would be a crime not to salute saxman James King, who alternated between the woodwind instrument and a guitar. He was a key player capable of doing whatever the band required him to do, and doing it with effortless style.
The band closed the main set with highly anticipated single “The Walker” from their 2013 album More Than Just a Dream, and the entire band came together as an animated whole. Jeremy Ruzumna brightened the sound considerably, and bassist Joseph Karnes kept us moving to the rhythm. James of course had that wonderful sax solo in the back half of “The Walker.” Fitz and The Tantrums also appears to have a new tour drummer (replacing co-founder John Wicks, who retired from touring), and that guy caught on fast and kept the fire burning through the set.
Watch the official music video for “The Walker” by Fitz and The Tantrums on YouTube:
No Fitz and The Tantrums show would be complete without “Handclap,” the phenomenal number from the band’s 2016 self-titled album. As the last song in the encore at 9:30 Club, “Handclap” was a party all by itself. I imagine songwriting sessions for Fitz and The Tantrums consists of Fitz throwing different lyrical or physical devices up against the wall to see what gets everyone most excited and then they run away with the most outrageously dance-inducing ones with wild abandon. There’s nothing subtle about “Handclap,” and that’s a welcome relief for people who just want to loose themselves in a big fat beat.
Fitz and The Tantrums remain on tour down the USA east coast over the next week (with Boston tonight), and you are hereby encouraged to check your troubles at their door and go crazy with them for a terrific night of damn good fun.
Here are some photos of Fitz and The Tantrums performing at 9:30 Club on Feb. 6, 2023. All photos by Mickey McCarter.