Charlie Puth Overcomes Illness at Homecoming Show in Los Angeles

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Charlie Puth performs at the Greek Theatre on Aug. 14, 2018 in Los Angeles.

About halfway through his show at Los Angeles’ Greek Theater on Tuesday night (Aug. 14), Charlie Puth paused between songs to address the teeming crowd. “Really quickly, about 10 a.m. this morning, I was in the doctor’s office. I wasn’t going to be able to sing tonight,” he said, paying respect to his doctors who rehabilitated him just in time for the gig. “We’ve been doing back-to-back-to-back shows. Thanks for your energy as well.”   

If Puth was suffering from any signs of road wear, he didn’t show it at this homecoming performance on his Voicenotes tour, which kicked off in Toronto in mid-July. The evening began with a 30-minute set from music up-and-comer (and silver screen veteran) Hailee Steinfeld who, flanked by backup dancers, warmed up the audience with hits including “Starving” with Grey featuring Zedd and “Let Me Go” with Alesso featuring Florida Georgia Line and watt.    

Around 8:45 p.m., Puth emerged with his backing band, their silhouettes projected onto a giant white curtain that cloaked the stage. The 75-minute set that ensued was energized and nearly flawless, with Puth showing little sign of vocal or physical fatigue as he played the lot of his 2018 sophomore album Voicenotes and a few loosies from earlier in his career. “Greek Theater, Los Angeles, California!” he addressed the crowd after kicking it off with “The Way I Am” and “Slow It Down.” “I have one question for you, it’s been pondering in my mind the last couple of days. The place I call home right now... How long has this been going on?”    

“How Long” followed, the first show of Puth's effortless artistry during the night. With a keytar slung across his shoulder, he nailed a two-minute solo mid-song chased by a call-and-response. “Welcome everybody, it’s an absolute pleasure for you to be here,” he said. “This is my little keytar. It makes me feel like I’m a guitar player. I’m a very bad guitar player. I feel like this is California-appropriate. This is the literal instrument that Dr. Dre used to produce The Chronic, the entire album. It also feels appropriate to use it on this song in particular.     

“If you don’t know me, if you were dragged here tonight by your teenage daughter or son, I’ll give you a brief backstory,” he continued. “Four years ago, I told my parents I was going to come to California. The goal for me was to be just a successful producer and songwriter, one that writes music for others. Anyway, four years later, this is happening. This next record is about how celebrity almost clouded my brain. I surrounded myself with my family and they got me out of that mess.”   

He faced off with his electric guitar player during “LA Girls,” and soldiered through the rest, handling the verses for his collaborators during “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” “Marvin Gaye” and “Done for Me,” the latter of which he began by ripping off his silk shirt and finishing the night bare-chested. The set was Voicenotes-heavy: with nearly the entire album making its way into the set, as well as Puth standards like “One Call Away” and “Suffer.”

But overall, it felt like a victory lap for Puth, who just a few years ago was hardly the promising pop titan he showed he could be. He closed with the hit, “Attention,” and, if he plays his cards right, a slam-dunk single in “Boy.” “I’m so happy for the doctors,” he said, just prior to an encore of "See You Again," “and thank you so much for coming out and letting this be your Tuesday night."