How do you write a review about Charlie Puth? Someone who can’t help but make perfect music, to the point that some people find it too perfect?
Puth is currently on the road for his One Night Only Tour and made his stop in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre last week, in support of his new record CHARLIE. At a venue that feels like you should be watching a play, ballet, or philharmonic performance, the New Jersey native instead delivered a 20-song-long show, without any supporting acts. Before getting on stage, Charlie had a Chicago-style pizza, along with some sips of a Portillo’s chocolate shake and bites of chocolate cake that “fueled” him for the gig, he admitted in between songs.
The night began with two of his newest songs; “Charlie Be Quiet!” and “Light Switch,” both energetic and upbeat enough to get the entire venue dancing. Throughout the set, Charlie talked to the crowd in multiple occasions, mentioning how TikTok has had an impact in his life and career in the last couple of years. He even went onto explain how he made “No More Drama,” what sounds were the first ones he came up with, and how one riff turned into what is his new album’s last song. It felt almost like watching a compilation of his TikToks (but in a good way). During this song, he also gave his guitarist some time to shine with a solo towards the end.
The crowd was a heterogenous group of people of all ages, from tweens to adult couples and families. Since the venue is made for sitting, people were inevitably standing in place during the entire show, but that seemed to be just right for the type of crowd Charlie attracts. Though most fans seemed to enjoy both new and older songs, it was palpable how older songs were most people’s favorites. “We Don’t Talk Anymore” from his debut album Nine Track Mind, as well as “How Long,” “Attention,” and one of my all-time favorite songs, “BOY” from his 2018 LP Voice Notes, got the most screams and excitement from the Chicago audience.
During the second half of the set, Charlie performed “That’s Hilarious,” but not without engaging the crowd first by making them sing some ridiculous riffs back to him, gaining laughs from the older attendees. He also gave his own slowed-down rendition of The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s song “STAY” on the piano, which he co-wrote and co-produced.
Before performing his second to last song, “I Don’t Think That I Like Her,” the singer addressed Miles Bonham, a 6-year-old kid who was in the audience and that, according to Charlie, is like mini version of him. After calling him a “genius” and talking about how he’s “never been so impressed,” he explained how Miles recreated his song from scratch, following a similar process to Puth’s. It was a sweet and wholesome moment, that played out perfectly as the show came close to an end.
Finally, Charlie closed the night with the song that changed his life, “See You Again.” After a prolonged standing ovation, Charlie stayed on stage a few extra minutes, jokingly posing for the crowd, blowing kisses, and smiling gratefully. He seemed genuinely happy and naturally charismatic, just as he portrays himself on TikTok. The packed auditorium cheered and waved back at him until he disappeared backstage.
With an already established career and name in the music industry, one could think that it’s only downhill from here for Charlie Puth, but his adaptability, social media game, and the fact that he is quite literally musically gifted, allows him to continue to impress release after release.
Charlie’s One Night Only North American tour wraps up tomorrow in Los Angeles and hits Europe at the end of the month.
Photos and words by Javi Zamorano.