Last Tuesday night, I headed to Hollywood with my friend Julie, to see my favorite musician/songwriter, Josh Ritter, perform with The Royal City Band. This was my fifth time seeing Josh Ritter perform live and he never disappoints. What I love most, is how he uses concerts to play different variations of his songs. The entire vibe of a song changes dramatically when slowed down, sped up, or played with different instruments. Ritter always surprises during his concerts, including this one, where he played a new, never recorded song.
This concert tour is in support of his latest album, Sermon on the Rocks, which was recorded last year in New Orleans. He played a majority of the new album, but also pepper the set with many favorites, like Girl in the War and Good Man. His encore included two of my all time favorite songs, The Temptation of Adam and To the Dogs or Whoever. As with his previous shows, Ritter performed with an enthusiasm and joy that is simply infectious.
The opening band was a folk band called Elephant Revival from Colorado. They had a woman playing a washboard, and another playing the fiddle. Good times! Admittedly some of their songs were a bit artsy and experimental for my taste, but others that leaned towards rock and singer-songwriter, appealed to me. The lead male singer has a wonderful, rich voice.
Normally, The Fonda Theatre is one of my favorite concert venues. It's small enough to feel intimate, not a bad view in the house. It's stylish ( if not a bit unusual in its art work) and the sound is excellent. This was my first time that I had a negative experience at The Fonda Theatre. We had tickets for seats in the balcony, which are first come/first serve. Arriving early, we secured great seats, not that any spot in the balcony would have provided a bad view.
The problem was the security working the balcony. One of the guards that was stationed to patrol the front of the balcony had his radio turned up high. Many songs in Ritter's set were quiet, and the guard's radio kept going off, interrupting the performance. Although concert goers in the balcony complained and shot him dirty looks, he did nothing about the noise level on his radio. He was also intrusive when it came to people sitting in the reserved section at the front of the balcony. Instead of waiting between songs to check their tickets, he would loudly barrel over and communicate with them mid-song, no matter how quiet the nature of the song. It was incredibly distracting and rude. Never once was his noise a necessity or something that couldn't have waited to take place between songs.
What I admire most about Ritter, is how within the economy of a song, he is able to tell a complete story with vibrant characters and unusual phrasing. His writing is emotional, honest, and surprising. Frustrating security guard aside, I left the concert feeling energized and inspired to get back to writing my novel.
Trivia- Julie, who is German, told me that Ritter means "Knight" in German!