This past weekend I saw Josh Ritter at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston and it still seems pretty dreamlike. It was incredible how (with the help of his tight band) he could get us up on our feet, singing along to one rockin’ tune and then have us seated and pin-drop quiet, listening intently to another.
What was most striking for me was the huge grin Ritter had on his face for the entire show. What a genuinely humble and happy guy! It’s so obvious that he just LOVES being up there and that happiness spread quickly throughout the audience. It had been a long time since I sat at a packed concert and felt like everyone else was just as focused on the show as I was.
Ritter stirred the audience into a frenzy with a bunch of familiar tunes including “Rumors”, “Good Man”, “Kathleen”, “Right Moves”, and “Snow Is Gone”. I was also happy to hear a lot of new material from So Runs The World Away. There were many extremely tender tunes mixed with some big, fierce, awe-inspiring rock songs. Across the board, Ritter’s songs are filled with top-notch writing.
I knew a couple who drove all the way from upstate New York to see the show even though they had just seen him play a few weeks before. As the night drew to an end, I knew exactly why they had to see it again.
Last night I saw Josh Ritter live at the Orpheum in Boston. I feel that I need a day or so to process his INCREDIBLE performance… so for now, the openers:
The Punch Brothers are a five-piece string band. BUT, there’s a lot more than bluegrass going on up on that stage. When Chris Thile (Nickel Creek) got this band together back in 2006, he knew he wanted it to essentially be a bluegrass band, but with “a lot of range”. A lot of range is right!
These guys are all extremely impressive on their instruments and tend to play them in a frenzy. The unexpected stops and slowdowns thrown into each tune kept me on the edge of my seat. Thile is a joy to watch as his fingers fly across the mandolin, and his body moves in an almost spastic manner.
They played a great mix of songs… some from Thile’s 2006 release, How To Grow a Woman From The Ground, a few from the group’s 2008 album, Punch, and a good number of brand new tunes which will be on their forthcoming record, Antifogmatic, in stores June 15th. They also covered “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” by the White Stripes and did an amazing rendition of “Reptilia” by The Strokes (as an avid fan of The Strokes, that might have been the highlight of their set for me).
This entertaining act is playing the Iron Horse in Northampton on Monday (the 24th) and they’ll be at several festivals this summer, including Bonnaroo and Newport Folk. Check them out live… I can guarantee you’ve not heard anything quite like it!