Josh Ritter and his suit adorned Royal City Band played possibly their biggest show to date at London’s Barbican Theatre on Thursday evening – ‘the only venue’, Ritter joked, ‘to have a tube stop named after it’.
Traversing the contemplative, home state opener “Idaho”, to the jubilant “Good Man” which he states ‘is for my moustache’ Ritter proves himself ever the loveable, showman jokester – howling to the crowd mid-“Wolves” and bouncing around the stage in a fit of contagious excitement for the set’s two hour duration.
Captivating narratives such as waltzing, Egyptian epic “The Curse” depict a curiosity and mysticism, while “Change of Time” paints perfect visceral images of “battered hulls and broken hardships, leviathan and lonely” in a suspended scene of deep sea dreaming. While remaining within the realms of folk and Americana throughout his years as a recording artist; Ritter manages to renew his sound without losing its distinctive qualities. New track “Sir Galahad” displays all the wordiness of set closer “To the Dogs of Whoever”, but with an observant witticism (in this case on the afterlife) that we are sure Stephen Fry would find, for all its intelligence, commendable.
Precise wordy, worldly observations; that have in recent years found the typical Dylan comparisons prove themselves never falling short for growth as they expand in their topics; crossing vast plains and moments in time with each album – So Runs the World Away’s “Orbital” is but one track displaying the Idaho songwriter’s ability to capture philosophy, history, astrology and love in a succinct nutshell.
A mid-set cover of Neil Young’s “Pocahontas” and a breakdown of Golden Age of Radio‘s “Harrisburg” into a comic dialogue of his recently visited cities makes way for a rendition of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” before wife, Dawn Landes, assists on 1960’s revivalist folk song “500 Miles Away from Home”. An ‘everyone together’ eight piece vocal effort on “Wait for Love” rounded off the end of an enjoyable evening for crowd and artists alike, with Ritter concluding the performance bearing the same grin and exhuberance with which it began.
Photos by Michael Farrant. All Rights Reserved
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