Friday, June 28, 2013

Josh Ritter Concert (The Mercy Lounge 6/27/2013)

I finally got around to seeing Josh Ritter in concert.  The few times he's came close enough I've had other things going on and have never been able to make it.  Last night, Mr. Ritter, along with the Royal City Band and the Milk Carton Kids, rolled in to Nashville.  Fate aligned and I found myself there.

Venue: The Mercy Lounge
Status: SRO, hot, front of the stage spot
Opening Band: Milk Carton Kids
Main Act: Josh Ritter
Time: 8:00pm

Having already witnessed the Americana sounds of the Milk Carton Kids twice before, I was very much looking forward to seeing the duo again last night.  Their new album came out a few months back, so they played several new songs.  Even more, they played plenty of tracks from their first two records.  Additionally their stage presence was more refined.  Witty banter.  Audience interaction.  The MCKs played just under an hour and quietly stepped aside for Josh Ritter to come up.  (I would have loved for them to have played a little longer, but alas...)

Josh sent out an email a few months ago giving some insight to his new album The Beast in Its Tracks.  Josh was going through a messy divorce with plenty of pain and anguish.  To anyone who's listened to it, it's obvious.  So I was expecting Josh to be a bit somber last night.  Instead, he burst onto the stage hopping around with one of the widest-most-genuine smiles I've ever seen on someone.  He was like a subdued Thom Yorke. 
An example of craziness. 

This energy was felt in the crowd.  Everyone on the stage looked like they were having a blast, dancing, singing, laughing.  I heard Josh yell to the bassist between verses of one song, "This is awesome."  And I think he meant it.  Being right in front of the stage, his charisma was infectious. Despite the heat and packed-like-sardines crowd, I had a blast.

Highlights?  The whole thing.  "Kathleen," one of my favorites, was played, and Josh let the crowd sing a chunk of it.  That was fun.  In "Wolves" Josh got down on the stage and howled, which was funny.  "The Temptation of Adam" was in the encore, which was awesome, cause I didn't expect to hear that one.  He sang "Galahad" and laughed through it.  His setlist was long, about an hour-and-a-half.  I got a pick from the stage (actually Leigha picked one up for me and one up for Dustin). 

Perhaps the best praise I can say is that of all the concerts I've been to (here), this would rank as one of the most fun.  I've been to some great shows, but being this close to the stage paired with the energy, wow.  An awesome show.

If you're not familiar with Josh Ritter (for shame), you can listen to some of his music here and here.