English singer Rex Orange County turned Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island (1300 S. Linn White Dr.) into a pop-disco party during his Chicago stop on the “WHO CARES?” Tour. The singer, whose actual name is Alex O’Connor, illuminated the venue and mesmerized fans with a colorful set and extensive vocal abilities during his June 24 performance.
With the omission of an opening act, suspense surrounding Rex Orange County’s appearance on stage steadily built throughout the packed venue prior to his scheduled start time.
When O’Connor finally made his way to the stage, simple curtains featuring cartoon sun and moon graphics and a single spotlight drew the audience’s attention directly to the singer. The outdoor venue and minimalistic stage setting kicked off the show with a natural, intimate vibe.
Rex Orange County opened the concert with “MAKING TIME,” the ninth track from his March 2022 album “WHO CARES?” The eleven-song release focuses on romantic pursuits and overcoming self-doubt.
“Making time tonight / Just to see you,” he sang endearingly to his Chicago fans.
Following his first song, the personified sun and moon curtains were drawn back to reveal the singer’s band and set.
The five-person band played amongst a set of giant thumbs-up cut-outs with smiling faces, symbols used throughout the album’s promotion. Multicolored flowers with disco ball pistils stood between the band and a dalmatian print backdrop.
The concert quickly shifted to a more lively tone during the next few songs. O’Connor jumped around the stage as he sang tracks from his 2022 release, such as “KEEP IT UP,” “AMAZING” and “ONE IN A MILLION.” From the start, his love for performing and high-spirited stage presence was undeniable.
Following a few of the singer’s recently released songs, fans erupted in cheers when they heard the fast-paced drum beat of “Television / So Far So Good,” the second track from his 2017 release “Apricot Princess.”
Other previously released songs in his setlist included “4 Seasons” and “Sunflower.” The passionate crowd confidently belted every lyric to the throwbacks. He dedicated his performance of “Corduroy Dreams,” the fourth song from his debut 2016 album “Bcos U Will Never B Free,” to longtime fans.
Rex Orange County took over instrumentally as he serenaded concertgoers with his piano on a cover of Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You.” The singer’s raspy voice and warm disposition fostered a sense of comfort and calmness throughout the venue.
The celestial curtains closed mid-show, hiding the band and set again while leaving O’Connor alone with the audience. He pulled out his guitar for a solo set, which rekindled the intimacy of the concert’s start.
The stage lights and reflective disco balls were outshined by Rex Orange County’s raw vocal talent. Fans screamed along to the singer’s performance of his song “Happiness,” which details his doubts about whether or not someone’s love for him is unconditional.
“But will you still love me when nobody wants me around? / When I turn 81 and forget things, will you still be proud?” he sang, despite being drowned out by the audience’s emotional rendition.
When the curtains pulled back again to reveal the band and set, the singer’s energy shifted drastically from calm and refined to dynamic and animated as he prepared to wrap up the show.
The remainder of the concert upheld Rex Orange County’s reputation as a strong vocalist and passionate performer. His stage presence was motivating and his vocals undying.
While it seemed as though the crowd had given the singer all of their energy, Rex Orange County continuously begged his fans for more, directing them to jump as he performed “Best Friend.” Audience members put their phones away at the singer’s request in order to share an authentic, vibrant moment during the song.
The singer apologized to fans for having to depart before wrapping up the show with his most recent album’s title track. Both the O’Connor and the crowd forfeited what seemed to be the last of their liveliness before Rex Orange County left the stage.
The crowd persistently chanted for an encore for several minutes following the singer’s initial departure.
O’Connor gave fans just enough time to regain some energy before he skipped back on stage for one last song. The encore highlighted one of his most popular and heart-wrenching songs, “Pluto Projector,” from his 2019 release “Pony.”
“I feel at home when I’m around you / And I’ll gladly say again / I hope the encore lasts forever,” he sang as the crowd sang back to him, proving the lyrics to be a shared sentiment.
Rex Orange County’s performance was incredibly strong from start to finish. With his fiery energy, ceaseless vocal talent and bouncy dance moves, the pop singer’s Chicago tour stop was an undeniable display of passion for his work and all-around talent.
“WHO CARES?” along with the remainder of Rex Orange County’s discography is available on all major streaming platforms.