A Great Big World of 2CELLOS: Concert at Iron Horse Music Hall

Photo by Becca Damante '17 | A Great Big World and 2CELLOS perform at Iron Horse Music Hall.

Photo by Becca Damante ’17 | A Great Big World and 2CELLOS perform at Iron Horse Music Hall.


Becca Damante ’17
Layout Staff

Last Tuesday, October 15, I had the pleasure of seeing A Great Big World and 2CELLOS perform at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton. Iron Horse is a small and intimate venue, so luckily, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The evening began at 7 p.m., when A Great Big World made its debut on stage. The band of five started out as duo Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino almost eight years ago. The two had the opportunity to open shows for Ingrid Michaelson and Five for Fighting, but it was not until 2012 that the performing pair blossomed into A Great Big World. After raising money on Kickstarter, the band released a 6-song EP. The band turned the corner when their single “This Is the New Year” was featured on the hit television show Glee.

A Great Big World sang eight songs before 2CELLOS hit the stage. One of my favorites was “Say Something,” which was performed solo by lead singer Ian Axel at the piano with breathtaking emotion. He explained, “[This song] was danced to unexpectedly on So You Think You Can Dance about a month ago.

It was so beautiful, and I feel like it came out nowhere, and people started responding to the song so much that our label pushed it to radio.”

Another one of my favorite songs of the night was “Everyone is Gay,” which is featured on The Gayest Compilation Ever Made, a CD created to raise money for the LGBTQ advice website everyoneisgay.com.

The Northampton crowd absolutely loved it! Other songs included their hit “This is the New Year” and a cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life,” which featured a trumpet performance by lead singer

Chad Varracino. Their set ended with the catchy “I Really Want It,” which is likely to be featured on their next album, due to be released this winter.

After A Great Big World closed their set, 2CELLOS took the stage. These two Croatian cellists took the world by storm with their fiery cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” which went viral on YouTube in 2011. Shortly after, Sony Masterworks signed them and Elton John asked them to accompany him on his worldwide tour. Like A Great Big World, 2CELLOS’ success was also heightened by Glee . 2CELLOS was featured on Glee as the first ever instrumental act, performing their unique arrangement of “Smooth Criminal” with star Naya Rivera. The song debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

2CELLOS’ set was a mix of slow gorgeous ballads on the electric cello and intense, upbeat rock ’n’ roll. The collection of songs was perfect there was a range, yet almost all of their selections were recognizable by the audience. After playing two slow songs, including Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” one of the members of the band joked, “We’re going to start a bit slower. I saw some people order food. So if you want to eat, you better eat now because later on you might throw up.” He wasn’t kidding. The night went from the beautiful U2 hit “With or Without You” to the intense “Smooth Criminal” to a powerful mash-up of Coldplay’s “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” A few songs even included high-energy rhythmic tapping on the cello as well as plucking.

About halfway through the set, their drummer came on stage and took the performance to another level. “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Highway to Hell” were played with so much energy, the two were almost jumping out of their seats.

At this point, if I wasn’t watching them play, I wouldn’t have guessed they were playing cellos. They sounded like they were playing electric guitars. They decided to end the night just as they had started it, with a slow, emotional piece that completed the set perfectly. I would highly recommend checking both bands out – they each have a unique style and are really entertaining to watch live.

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