As a sucker for acoustical music, I was really looking forward to tonight’s show at The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida. New Found Glory is out on the road in support of their Make The Most Of It album which dropped earlier this year, but this tour was about so much more than a new record. A little more than a year ago, lead guitarist Chad Gilbert was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. It was during his battle with this horrendous disease that he created this masterful album. Proceeds from the show are going to help increase awareness for Gilbert’s disease, pheochromocytoma. Tonight’s show was the 2nd sold-out event at The Plaza Live in a week for me, and I had no doubts that it was going to be great.
Starting off the evening was Tennessee singer/songwriter Leanna Firestone. At just 21 years old, Firestone has already garnered more than 700,000 TikTok followers and released her debut album, Forward/Slash, last year. Firestone took the stage right around 8:00pm, accompanied by just 2 guitars. A solo acoustic set takes more guts than one might think. There are no other band members, distractions, or background music, just a single performer with all the focus directed at her. Firestone came out with confidence and opened the set with “Google Translate/poppies” from last year’s album. Her melodious vocals, combined with her Taylor guitar, easily won the crowd over. A lot of Firestone’s material deals with trials and tribulations, which were evident with songs like “You Just Didn’t Like Me That Much,” and “Least Favorite Only Child.” Before performing “Tourniquet,” she said there is usually 1 person in the crowd that walks out crying during the song. Firestone closed out the 7-song set with “Smitten.” The set was top-notch and reminded me of another talented musician I saw here last year, Sara Kays. I expect big things to continue for Leanna and you should definitely follow her online (links at bottom of review).
Leanna Firestone: Vocals, Guitar
2.You Just Didn’t Like Me That Much
3.Least Favorite Only Child
4.Love Of My Life
5.God And The Government
By 9:00pm the sold-out crowd were back in their seats after the brief intermission and the house lights went out. 3 stools were positioned at the front of the stage and toward the back was a drum kit and keyboards. Drummer Cyrus Bolooki had an acoustic guitar and he sat stage right along with bassist Ian Grushka. Guitarist Dan O’Connor (filling in for Chad Gilbert) from Four Year Strong sat stage left. Vocalist Jordan Pundik came out wearing the coolest neon mushroom button-up shirt and immediately told the crowd “We’re going to have a good time, so sing along, stand up, let’s fucking go.”
The 1st song of the performance was my favorite from the new album, “Get Me Home.” If there’s 1 song that sums up the meaning behind this album and tour, it’s this 1 right here. There are no hidden meanings here, and with lyrics like “There’s someone at home I wanna kiss, Take me home,” it’s obvious that this song is directly correlated to Chad Gilbert’s desire to return home during his hospitalization. The next 2 songs were a trip down memory lane with 1999’s “Hit Or Miss,” and 2002’s “Understatement.” The 1st cover of the night was Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years.” Grushka’s Disney-themed Fender was eye-popping, and I suddenly appreciated my current position. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the benefits of being able to get so close.
I made my way up to the balcony and was just in time to catch the beginning of “My Friends Over You.” At one point Pundik jokingly said “open up that floor,” and the reserved seating audience laughed. For the performance of “Too Good To Be,” Bolooki shifted to the keyboards while Grushka played the triangle. After crushing his triangle solo, Grushka comically charged triumphantly across the stage. “The Story So Far” brought out all the torches and the crowd sang along emphatically. Bolooki assumed a familiar position on drums as the band played 2004’s “No News Is Good News.” Leanna Firestone was invited to join the band onstage for several songs including “Dressed To Kill,” and a cover of The Goo Goo Dolls‘ “Iris,” which happened to be the last song of the regular set.
After a brief pause, the 5-song encore commenced with “Broken Sound” and “Sonny.” Firestone set up shop on the keys for the band’s cover of Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.” “Dream Born Again” was the perfect choice to put the punctuation mark on a perfect night. Tonight’s show exceeded my expectations. It was great to hear the new songs, and seeing some of the older ones performed acoustically provided a refreshingly new perspective. Another takeaway that I had was that even in the worst of times, music can lift people up and bring them together for a good cause. For more information on pheochromocytoma, or to make a donation please visit The Pheo Para Alliance.
New Found Glory:
Jordan Pundik: Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Ian Grushka: Bass
Cyrus Bolooki: Drums, Percussion, Acoustic Guitar
Dan O’Connor: Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Chad Gilbert: Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals (not touring)
1.Get Me Home
2.Hit or Miss
4.A Thousand Years (Christina Perri Cover)
5.Mouth To Mouth
6.My Friends Over You
8.All Downhill From Here
9.Too Good To Be
10.It’s Not Your Fault
11.More Than Enough
12.The Story So Far
13.No News Is Good News
14.Dressed To Kill
15.Ready & Willing
16.Iris (Goo Goo Dolls Cover)
19.I Don’t Wanna Know
20.I’ll Be (Edwin McCain Cover )
21.Dream Born Again
Follow Leanna Firestone Online:
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I’ve had a love for photography since I was young. Whether it was a Polaroid or a Kodak 110, I was always the kid with the camera. My love of music goes back even further. Nothing beats being at a show when those lights go down and the crowd goes nuts.