Show Review

Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band

Marty Connors
As corny as this sounds, at any concert I've ever been to that I've really enjoyed, there is always a moment where I get a chill. True story. There is always a moment where there's the perfect marriage between the musicians, crowd, venue, and whatever other variables might exist, and I get a brief chill. At the Beachland Ballroom Monday night, this happened six times. The last time Josh Ritter came to the Ballroom, I wrote a review for that show as well, so I will try not to retrace my steps here, but there is only so many ways that I can tell you how brilliant Josh Ritter is live.

It's rare to see someone who can control a crowd as well as Josh Ritter. At various times throughout the show, The Royal City Band left Ritter alone on stage to play songs with only his guitar as accompaniment, and during these times the crowd was absolutely silent. No drunks yelling out “YEAH!,” or any other exclamations of encouragement, no chatter, almost no sound at all. It's a testament to the talent on display and to how magnetic Ritter is. He commands your attention because he's so much fun to watch.

I've never seen Josh Ritter play at any other venue than The Beachland. He may be this gracious and happy at other places, other states. But I'd like to think that it's just our state of Ohio (home of Oberlin College, Ritter's Alma Mater), and our Beachland Ballroom (a place that in Ritter's own words is one of the first to ever give him a paying gig) that brings out the infectious happiness that Ritter displayed on stage. The guy never stopped smiling the entire night.

Moreover, it wasn't just the smiling, but that it looked like Ritter and The Royal City Band were having a blast on stage. Whether they were leading the audience in sing a longs or wolf howling during “Wolves,” everyone on stage oozed happiness. And it's hard not to be swept up in it when the band is clearly having that much fun together.

There wasn't a misstep during the entire show, and Ritter and company even left me with a new appreciation for songs like “Southern Pacifica,” which I've thought was a good song, but not one I return to again and again. “The Curse,” and “Temptation of Adam” were standouts, but only because they're personal favorites and not because they were played any better than any song Ritter played that night.

In the end, I could really gush about Ritter's live shows ad nauseam. Ultimately, though, you should go see him the first chance you have. In Ohio, at the Beachland Ballroom. Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band may not be any more happy to play there than any other venue, but I'd like to think that Ritter and company want to be playing there, on Waterloo Rd, then at anywhere else.