Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band
(18 Aug 2013: Toad's Place New Haven, CT)
Here at PopMatters, we do like to catch Josh Ritter live (there are at least five show reviews in as many years). Its easy to understand why. He conveys a certain kind of charm that most artists only dream about and he paints vivid pictures through his storified songs. This year saw the release of his album Beast in Its Tracks, which drew upon Ritter’s divorce to craft very emotional pieces. It’s a great album and “A Certain Light” is one of my favorite tracks this year, so I was excited to catch him on tour at Toad’s Place in New Haven. Distant enough from New York that it’s is a stretch to reach, Toad’s has been lacking in great artists in recent times it seems, but Ritter familiarized himself with the venue’s history and declared he was proud to play the “mythical Toad’s Place” from the stage.
Josh Ritter and his backing musicians, The Royal City Band, are a dapper group and gave the New Haven audience a lengthy performance. They delved wholeheartedly into songs new and old, including the epic mummy-tale, “The Curse”, to which he briefly appeared to forget the words too, then laughed it off and kept on going. I can’t complain about hearing “A Certain Light” but it came across as a bit more cheerful than it does on the album version, where a bit of depressed sarcasm surfaces. The night didn’t seem to end, and I had to leave a bit early but it was a fantastic performance from Ritter that gripped the audience. Hopefully Ritter brings his acoustic tour around the NY area as it’s always a treat to see the man smile and to hear him sing.
PS - I think the members of The Low Anthem must have been on something as that, or the fact they were testing out songs with a new lineup, resulted in their set being out of sync and unpleasant. It didn’t help the vocal volumes weren’t set properly either. What a shame as I had heard good things about the group.
The Low Anthem:
Come and Find Me
One More Mouth
Joy to You Baby
Change of Time
A Certain Light
Temptation of Adam
To the Dogs (or Whoever)