Beth and I went to see Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band at the zoo last night. That sounds sort of exotic, but the truth is that I didn’t see or hear any animals other than birds and gnats the entire evening. I didn’t even smell any animals. The predominant smell in the air was that of garlic fries. The animals at Woodland Park Zoo must be very shy, polite, and hygienic.
It was a perfect evening to be out on the grass for an outdoor concert, but I soon became grumpy because the opening act, a group called Lake Street Dive, wouldn’t leave the stage. Long after I thought they should’ve wrapped up, the singer was talking about playing a few more. Then they played more after those. No opening act should ever be onstage longer than 40 minutes. That’s a rule.
Lake Street Dive eventually went away and Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band took the stage. Josh Ritter is so earnest and enthusiastic that it’s hard to stay grumpy once he’s doing his thing. He’s pretty much the John Denver of the 2000s. I don’t mean that as an insult either. I always liked John Denver. I think he got a bad rap because he had awful hair and hung around with Muppets too much. He was a true entertainer who seemed to genuinely enjoy being onstage and singing his songs for people. I get the same vibe from Josh Ritter. He has a good time up there and seems to appreciate how lucky he is to be able to make a career of it. And his enthusiasm is infectious. Okay, let’s just say I smile a lot at Josh Ritter shows and move on to the next paragraph.
Josh Ritter’s most recent release is The Beast in Its Tracks which came out in early 2013 (and took the #5 spot on my Albums of the Year post). He’s still traveling with his Evil Eye backdrop, but it didn’t feel like he was really touring in support of that album. He only played three songs from it. The setlist felt more like a career retrospective to me…what I’d call a “hits” set if Josh had ever had a hit. He also played two brand new songs as part of a mini solo acoustic set in the middle of the show. He didn’t give the titles of these new songs, but I’m calling them “Devil in His Eye” and “Get Yourself Back to the Country”. Maybe I should’ve called that first one “Henrietta, Indiana” because he likes to use place names as song titles. I don’t really know.
Here’s the setlist:
Main set: Good Man/Hopeful/Me & Jiggs/Southern Pacifica/Harrisburg/Right Moves/Kathleen/The Temptation of Adam (solo)/Henrietta, Indiana (solo)/”Get Yourself Back to the Country” (solo)/Here at the Right Time/Lantern/Wolves/New Lover/Naked As a Window–>Girl in the War/Joy to You Baby/Lillian, Egypt
Encore: Roll On/To the Dogs or Whoever
Blah, blah, blah.
I’m not finishing this one.