Passionate and emotive, seasoned singer-songwriter Andrew Ripp took a bow Saturday evening as he performed the final concert of his stripped down Simple Tour to an enthusiastic sold-out crowd at The Square Room.
Reminiscent of artists such as Matt Wertz and Ben Rector, Ripp, a handsome, talented musician from Chicago, wielded his soulful vocals for a mixed crowd of co-eds, swooning teenagers and a handful of older patrons.
Combining gospel, pop, rock and soul genres, Ripp delivered a touching, personal performance with absolute precision and true talent, hailing his influences to the likes of Joe Cocker, Otis Redding and Bob Dylan.
"As a songwriter, you are influenced by what you hear as a child," Ripp said. "I am so glad I grew up in the 70s."
Ripp has been on the music scene since early 2005, but gained notoriety four years ago when fellow singer-songwriter Dave Barnes heard his music and asked Ripp to join him on tour. Since then, Ripp has moved to Nashville and embarked on a highly successful solo tour.
Ripp's Simple Tour is aptly named. After a string of fans requested that he release acoustic versions of his music, Ripp responded with 2013's "Simple," a stripped down adaptation of his noteworthy early 2013 album, "Won't Let Go," under the direction of award-winning producer, Charlie Peacock (Civil Wars, Switchfoot).
Also included on "Simple" is an acoustic rendition of Justin Timberlake's song, "Mirrors," which he performed with soulful sensuality Saturday night much to the audience's delight.
For his Square Room performance, Ripp was accompanied only by a keyboardist and a drummer, choosing to perform a few songs solo, with simply his Gibson guitar and his natural, bluesy vocals.
In addition to his crowd-pleasing musical performance, Ripp kept his audience engaged between tunes with facetious banter.
"Please play this song when you Jazzercise," Ripp said of his song "Falling for the Beat." "It will make all my dreams come true."
But beyond his wit and charm, Ripp's music is touching, passionate and sincere, evoking emotions from his audience with his very personal lyrics.
"I wrote this song in a moment when I was feeling very desperate and alone," Ripp said of his song, "Rescue Me," which, with its religious subject matter, put a spiritual touch on the evening.
With "Simple," Ripp lends importance to the words and meanings of his songs by choosing not to fill spaces with long instrumental solos or flashy production elements.
For the passionate finale of Saturday's performance, Ripp invited the opening band, Judah & the Lion, along with Ripp's two instrumental accompanists to join him around the microphone in singing an unforgettable gospel-like rendition of his song "Peace Like a River." At the chorus, Ripp stepped away from the microphone, walked to the edge of the stage and sang with all the organic, emotive power of his voice, gleaning a tear or two from his captive audience.
"You guys have been my absolute favorite show of the tour," Ripp said. "Thank you."