It’s been an auspicious year for Eric Nam. The multi-hyphenate talent capped a busy 2023 with his headlining tour- fittingly named after this year’s album- with a packed show in Arizona last week. Hundreds of diehard fans fit themselves into The Van Buren for a big show that felt more like an intimate celebration among close friends.
UK-based singer-songwriter Jamie Miller got the party started with a warm, mellow performance that set the tone for the evening to perfection. Miller was humble and personable onstage, alternating between crooning softly from his stool perch and pacing the length of the stage to connect with everyone in the audience. Early on in the set, he brought out his best friend for a duet during “Maybe Next Time”, an emotional moment that had everyone smiling. He concluded his time onstage with a spirited cover of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (we love an artist who stays true to the original) and his own tune, “Only Place”.
Eric Nam transformed The Van Buren’s stage into a cross between a secret garden and a cozy living room- perfect for the House on a Hill Tour. Emerging from blinding lights and flanked by dancers Pauler Lam and Tristan Edpao, Nam was sleek and well-practiced as he moved fluidly from “Sink or Swim” to “Undefined”. His previous album had its shining moment as well, with the venue screaming along to “Any Other Way” and “What If” before House on a Hill was once again the focal point of the night.
In addition to being a renowned performer, Nam is also the host of his own talk show and a slew of podcasts and his humor took center stage as he cracked jokes with the crowd between songs- to their credit, there was plenty of barking after every number. Apologizing to anyone who’d been brought to the show against their will for the amount of hip thrusting about to take place, he segued into the sensual “You’re Sexy I’m Sexy” (a fan favorite for obvious reasons).
After an emotional sing-along to “Wildfire”, Nam took a breather to explain that House on a Hill was his “existential crisis album”- a sentiment that was echoed by a venue full of fans who could perfectly relate. The music world was thrown into upheaval by the pandemic and Nam channeled that energy into a raw, real album that translated perfectly for a live audience craving something to hang onto after the turmoil of recent years.
That turmoil turned inward on “I Wish I Wasn’t Me”, an aching reminder that a lot of people can find solace in their shared experiences- good and bad. Nam’s impressive vocal range carried to the ceiling and- with a little bit of encouragement- he had the audience trying to match him note for note along the way. He took a moment to send several fans heartfelt birthday wishes and closed the main set with “I Don’t Know You Anymore”, dance break and all.
Nam quickly returned for a highly-demanded encore sporting his own merch and ended the night with a jubilant dance party to “Congratulations”. This tour felt even more special, as Nam has hinted that he may not be touring in a large capacity after this headlining run, so his Phoenix fans soaked in every moment in the hopes that it wouldn’t be the last. Either way, Nam’s performances continue to impress and inspire and we’ll be there for whatever comes next.
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Story and photos by Olivia Khiel