Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band played the Granada Theater in Dallas last Monday night. It was only the third time they'd ever performed in Dallas, but surely it won't be the last. They've been here twice in the last six months, and from my conversation with bass player, Zack Hickman, after the show, these two shows have been huge successes. Last night's show was sold out, filled with avid fans.
When Josh came out at 9:30, he was alone with his acoustic Gibson and played Come and Find Me. After the opening tune, the rest of the band came out and did Good Man then Lillian, Egypt. Next up was Southern Pacifica and The Curse from his new album, So Runs the World Away. Josh was fired up, obviously enjoying himself, dancing around the stage, hitting the cymbals with the head of his guitar.
After Real Long Distance Call and Rattling Locks, he started into Harrisburg. This morphed into a story about staying in a Marriott Hotel, and then the words of the story turned into the lyrics of Once in a Lifetime, the Talking Heads' tune. Next was the Temptation of Adam, then he requested all of the lights be turned off. He unplugged his acoustic guitar and walked to the edge of the stage. In complete darkness, with no mic or amplification, solo, he played Thin Blue Flame. The crowd was completely silent. When Josh stopped to breathe, you could’ve heard a pin drop. No singing along, even though everyone knew the lyrics; no conversation or noise whatsoever. It was a very moving example of total respect for the artist.
The rest of the band returned to the stage, but instead of returning to their instruments, the huddled around a mic and sang harmony to Pale Blue Eyes, a Velvet Underground cover. When the song finished, Josh challenged the crowd to get real "feral" with a group growl. Then they played Mind's Eye and Right Moves.
Josh announced that we had approached the “awkward hour” and requested that during the middle part of the next song, that everyone grab a partner and slow dance. He encouraged the ladies in the audience to be generous, and the men to be persistent. There was even an illuminated disco ball for effect. He played Kathleen, and when they arrived at the bridge, the disco ball lit up and the sold out crowd created a giant slow dance, swaying to the music. Next was Lantern from the new album, and then he closed with Change of Time, also from the new album. The first encore was the tune, Galahad, which was recently released on the EP titled, To the Yet Unknowing World. The final song of the evening was To the Dogs or Whoever. This final song capped of an incredibly enjoyable and fun evening of great music. The crowd filed out smiling, completely satisfied.
Please make sure that you see Josh if he's playing in your area. I guarantee you'll enjoy it. It's rare that you find someone that's so good at what they do, and so passionate about doing it. Just to confirm what a class act Josh is, he stuck around for more than an hour after the show, talking to about 30 fans, signing autographs and taking pictures. He seemed like he treated that part of the evening as a natural extension of the show; like he really wanted to find out what his fans had to say. I saw him write a few notes on the back of his hand, probably song requests to play when he visits Dallas again.
Setlist: Come and Find Me Good Man Lillian, Egypt Southern Pacifica The Curse Real Long Distance Call Rattling Locks Harrisburg > 1Once in a Lifetime > Harrisburg The Temptation of Adam Thin Blue Flame 2Pale Blue Eyes (Group Growl) Mind's Eye Right Moves (awkward hour) Kathleen -world's largest slow dance Lantern Change of Time Encore: Galahad To the Dogs or Whoever