Gig Reviews, Dublin

29

Josh Ritter (live in Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin)

Josh Ritter Live in DublinReview Snapshot: Josh Ritter played to a packed Grand Canal Theatre last night. A night of funny, yet entirely irrelevant stories, a suspected bouncing disorder, a whole lot of tweed, and great music. One to remember.

The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10

Full Review: Having known very little about Ritter and his music before the gig, his first impression on me was positive: he was bouncy, enthusiastic, and not at all bored by performing to yet another packed venue. His smile was one that said he couldn’t be happier, or more amazed, that he was making a living out of this.

Joined onstage by his Royal City Band, Ritter launched himself into 'Southern Pacifica' from the new album “So Runs the World Away”, bouncing around like a toddler on ecstasy. His energy made him instantly likeable. He was however let down by the intensity of the amplification at the beginning which meant we lost the sharpness to his vocals, but this slowly ironed itself out as the night progressed.
 
What I loved so much about the set list was the mixture of utter rock and roll (giving Ritter the chance to snap a drumstick or two) and raw beauty and emotion that songs like “Wait for Love” and “Lantern” convey.
 
When his band suddenly walked off stage and the lights dimmed, we were treated to just Josh. He stepped away from the mic and moved towards the crowd. What followed was an acoustic performance of “Lark” that made the hairs on my neck stand up. His voice flowed over the crowds and balconies, entirely unamplified. He took pleasure in leaving us hanging on his every note and it was, for want of a lesser cliché, magical.
 
Another treat of the evening was “Curse”, a song that has gained some recent radio play. This was where the band really came into their own and I found myself more focused on their movements and contributions than on Josh, who submitted himself to a dream-like state of mind throughout.
 
When a band returns for its encore, we are often given one song and sent on our merry way; but not with these guys. Opening with an almost untouched version of the classic Moon River, we also heard the amazing “Wait for Love” where we saw the band (and what appeared to be the entire stage-crew) embrace on stage while drinking pints.
 
It would be wrong of me not to mention the venue as a key player in the night. The Grand Canal Theatre is truly huge. Sitting in row five, even I felt intimidated by the crowd if I turned around. The magnitude of the venue was not lost on little Josh, who spoke of how “there are too many balconies to remember what I have to say”. Despite being mainly designed for ballots and orchestras, Josh and his crew filled and lifted this place.

Elaine Peppard


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