Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Smiles, sentiment and all the right moves.

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on after leaving a Josh Ritter performance it is this: Despite his sad tales of budding love affairs in missile silos and saints arguing over saving war-torn lives, he is a very happy guy. The stage was all smiles and snappy dress as Ritter and his five-piece band ripped into "Mind's Eye" from The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, giving the impression that the night might be more of a rock affair and eschewing the country-folk of his earlier records. However, nary a "Judas" needed to be called out as the set dove back into the quiet and contemplative with "Wolves" and "Girl in the War" from The Animal Years.

Josh and the band were downright giddy throughout, exchanging hats midsong, breaking into impromptu Modest Mouse covers, and at one point mocking an opera interlude. His crowd interaction was mostly "thank you's" and "this is great's" but when he lapsed into a long story about a 100-pound bag of potatoes
in his basement (he is from Idaho, after all) his true personality
escaped, prompting a female attendee to yell, "I like you for who you are!"

The set ended with an extended take on "Kathleen" complete with an interlude detailing an odd tryst on a tractor and "Lawrence, KS." For the encore, Ritter decided to play (a Springsteen cover) sans amplification, as many singer-songwriters before him (why, Fionn Regan just did this last month) before inviting the band back up to rip through the crowd pleasing "Lillian, Egypt."

Ritter's increasingly distorted country-folk may not be everyone's cup of
coffee, but one thing's for certain --everyone left the Park West exactly as
Josh left the stage. Smiling.-Bob Nanna

Photo by Craig Shimala