Electric ‘Tantrums’ show band’s love affair with Chicago

Fitz and the Tantrums

Thanksgiving week began with a sold-out performance by Los Angeles-based sextet Fitz and the Tantrums Nov. 23 at the Riviera Theatre.

So what was the band thankful for? Chicago’s support.

“You guys have been the ultimate supporters,” lead singer Michael Fitzgerald yelled to the crowd before playing “Breakin’ the Chains of Love” from the band’s first album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces. The band hasn’t performed the song for two years, he said, one of the last times being at the Chicago Metro.

“Our love affair with Chicago has never ended since,” he added to a roaring crowd.

The group’s latest album, More than Just a Dream, is a step up in energetic pop beats but remains true to their original neo-soul sound by including saxophone solos and heartbreak lyrics.

The fans that night were just as thankful, buzzing with contagious cheers when Fitz and the Tantrums made their appearance on stage.

The Riviera Theatre, with its spoiled paint job that adds rustic flavor to the atmosphere, was lit by elegantly dimmed chandeliers and flashing promo-bracelets handed out before the show started.

They started off with “Get Away” from their latest album, bringing out its old-school jig with a sax upbeat by James King. The stage, accentuated with the iconic heart from their album cover, flashed in beat with the song and so did the hips of co-lead singer Noelle Scaggs, who brought out her soulful voice as much-needed background sound.

The audience bounced in response to the opening song, making the floor vibrate.

An interesting touch was the band’s cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” perhaps suggesting the 1980s group’s influence on Fitz, with its irresistible jazzy pop beat and empowering lyrics.

The band played their More Than Just a Dream lead single “Out of My League” afterward to excited fans. It’s the single that started the record, Fitzgerald said.

The most recently popular radio song, “Fools Gold” made the crowd ecstatic. The audience sang louder and clearer than before, and Fitzgerald and Scaggs clapped louder than before, as well.

Fitzgerald and Scaggs took it down a notch in tone and up a notch in feeling for the heart-wrenching “Last Raindrop.” They sang to each other and what seemed like only to each other.

Fitz and the Tantrums closed the show with “The Walker.” Pink and green lights bounced off the walls, the crowd danced and the band gave it their all.

The concert became a dance party that night, a celebration of success for the band that started in 2009 and the future records to come. Despite many of the songs’ hurt lyrics — words that express Fitzgerald’s pain from past relationships — their performance wasn’t short of a good time and shared dance moves. It’s clear that the fans love them — really love them — and rightfully so.