Song of the Moment: Josh Ritter (Concert Edition)

And now for the main act! Josh Ritter’s Valentines Day Brawl was a very impressive two-hour set at the House of Blues in Boston on Friday night. As I mentioned in my last post, I had very few of his songs in my iTunes library, but I loved each of those songs and knew that if I passed this concert up, I would regret it. This was exceedingly clear when all of the Best of 2010 lists were coming out and I was seeing praises for his new album everywhere. In preparation for the show I was able to get a hold of two of his albums and they were both great. I highly recommend his latest record, So Runs the World Away.

After Scott Hutchison’s fantastic performance I was keyed up and ready for more! Before Josh Ritter and the band even came out on stage, you could tell that he was set for a Valentine’s themed show. The stage, instruments, and microphones were all adorned with fake red roses. Not in a tacky way…in a sweetly romantic kind of way.

Josh Ritter stepped on stage alone (looking quite dapper in a red collared shirt and gray vest) and played his first two songs solo. They were lovely, as was he. He is the kind of musician that you can tell is really happy to be there performing. He had a huge, bright smile on his face and just looked so happy to be there. After the first two acoustic songs, he invited the Royal City Band on stage to play some favorites off of the new album including The Curse to which he whimsically waltzed around the stage with his eyes closed.

Upon completion of The Curse, the band continued a play the delightful little melody, while a stage hand came out on stage with a top hat. Josh explained that his website gave people the opportunity to express to their loved ones what they couldn’t in person. He took those messages and read them out on stage.  There were some silly jokes, sweet declarations of love, and appreciation of long-lasting friendship, as well as a heartbreaking message to soldier in town for a short amount of time. The one that really caught everyone’s attention though, was the one Ritter purposely saved for last. It was a heartfelt message to a loved one with the titles of Josh Ritter songs woven in. The message ended with “Will you marry me?” A moment after Ritter said, “I hope to hear the answer to that,” a man shouted from the crowd, “She said yes!” It was very sweet. 🙂

After the valentines, the band kicked it up a notch and really started rocking out for a while. They jammed out to Rattling Locks in which most of the musicians in the band abandoned their regular instruments for two drumsticks to whack together, so everyone was essentially on percussion. I was pleasantly surprised by how well Josh Ritter paced the set. Not only did he play for an entire two hours, which, with the exception of Bruce Springsteen, I have seen very few musicians do, but he was also able to go from quiet, folksy numbers that featured him picking at his guitar to full-blown rock numbers that involved the whole band, such as Real Long Distance as seen below in a fun little ‘homemade’ video. (You may have to open a new tab and watch it in YouTube. Sorry about that.)

Towards the end of the set, Josh played what I have decided is my favorite of his songs, The Temptation of Adam. I love everything about this song. I love the guitar and the story woven into the lyrics. In general this is something I find very impressive about Josh Ritter’s music. He has a talent for telling intricate and interesting stories within his lyrics. For other prime examples, listen to To the Dogs or Whoever and his new, wry song Sir Galahad, both of which he played at this show. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I can tell you about what the Temptation of Adam is about exactly. I think there are many ways of interpreting it, but you can see the interesting the debate its sparked just from reading the comment on the videos YouTube page. Here’s a really great all acoustic version of The Temptation of Adam:

For his final performance he brought Scott Hutchison back out on stage to sing the Everly Brothers song, Stories We Could Tell. It was a fun way to end the show. You could really tell that each performer was having a great time, and it was awesome to see them share the stage (and the mic!) especially after I watched Scott rocking out to Ritter’s set back stage. 🙂

I think one of the most important things I took from this concert is that I definitely need more of Josh Ritter’s music! I thought I had the essentials, but he played a number of songs that were very obviously fan favorites that I’d never heard before. He’s a versatile and a talented performer, who you can tell loves what he’s doing. I am so glad I took the opportunity to see him live! Lesson learned: never pass up a concert because you don’t have a concert buddy!

Thanks for reading! My next post is going to be about one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE artists, Joshua Radin and his amazing show on Saturday night. Can’t wait!



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. iamloislane
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 05:03:39

    I love the music you put on here. Seriously.


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