Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Josh Ritter & Tift Merritt
I don't want to give the impression that my experience of seeing Josh Ritter live last night was spoiled in any way, but let me just get this out of the way first. For those of you have seen many more concerts than I have, here's a question. Why on earth would anyone pay for a concert, not to mention a few drinks, and then stand there and talk to friends during the entire show? I wish I had been there when this happened:
I'm not as familiar with Ritter's last album So Runs The World Away as I should be, but Ritter (in his first Greenville show) knew what his fans wanted and opened with a raucous "Hello Starling" and "Good Man". As a point of comparison, Ritter on record is far smoother than Glen Hansard but in concert his four-piece band added considerable muscle to his tales of love, the West, and whales. New songs I'll be listening to more include "Lantern", "Lark" (see above), and "Change of Time". Ritter's stage persona is unrepentantly upbeat, and (like Hansard) his gratitude at the enthusiasm offered by the crowd seemed entirely genuine. One minor note: Josh, going into an encore don't send your bassist out to sing a song. Get your breath and come back out, we would have waited. As warm as Ritter was personally, he kept the stage banter to a minimum in order to give the crowd more music. the set was around 2hours but felt longer thanks to Ritter's generosity and the energy of the band.
I saw Tift Merritt a few years ago (same venue) with a full band supporting her album Tambourine. Her opening slot here was just acoustic guitar and piano, a choice made out of necessity no doubt but well suited to the songs from her latest album, See You On The Moon. The sparse instrumentation gave some urgency to songs that sometimes flirt with politeness on record. Favorites were "Engine To Turn" and two older songs, "Good Man" and an unamplified "Supposed To Make You Happy". The crowd seemed familiar with Merritt's music (she's from North Carolina and joked about being "cousins" with the audience) and gave her a degree of attention unusual for an opening act. All in all a most satisfying evening, and since both Ritter and Merritt are at the peak of their powers I can look forward to more in the future.