Josh Ritter: One of those nights….

By Mad Dog
Published: May 19, 2013

It takes large stones to begin a show in a noisy, jammed New York club by coming out solo, dropping to your knees and howling like an Idaho wolf. Josh Ritter did that. He began his second song, also solo. Then, one by one, the other musicians stepped onstage and, like artists who know exactly how good they are and what it took to get that good, Ritter and the Royal City Band presented a demonstration of what adult rock music can be: smart and powerful, loud and tender, wise and innocent. I have seen Josh Ritter perform dozens of times; I’ve never seen a show like this. The arc of his new CD — from his wife’s kick-in-the-gut announcement that their marriage was over to a wish for joy to all, ex-wife explicitly included — was the spine of the show, but not more than that; Ritter curated his catalogue and delivered it with fire and precision. And the band! Not just crisp, but honed. Of course this crowd knew all the words. And not only sang along, but sang a tears-in-the-eyes-beautiful counterpoint in a favorite number. We hit the street buzzing, humming the tunes, like Broadway in the golden age. So I’m looking at you, you smart people in the cities ahead: Pittsburgh, Richmond, Charleston, Charlotte, Nashville, Knoxville, Birmingham, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lansing, Denver, Sun Valley and Lenox. Tickets here. Joy guaranteed. You find a better deal, let me know.