If there’s one thing I learned from going to Joshua Radin’s gig at The Fonda Theatre it’s that the next time I go to one of his concerts, I’m bringing a date. Period.
As I waited for my guest to arrive (a friend, not a date … unfortunately), I took notice of the line waiting to get in. 15 to 1, fellas. 15 gals to 1 guy. Most of the guys who came into the venue were coupled up, and the women came in small, excited packs yearning, I’m assuming, to have their hearts moved.
Opening for Josh were Cary Brothers and Rachael Yamagata. They all went to college with Josh, and they must have taken the same classes, because their music generally reflects that same kind of musical stylings and sentiment that Josh’s music does.
The first act opening for Josh was Cary Brothers. The name is somewhat misleading, because it’s just one guy. One guy, a guitar and his soulfully, emotional tunes. During his performance of a song titled “Blue Eyes” (which was used in the motion picture “Garden State”), I overheard and noticed a guy whisper to a girl I am assuming his was courting, “Oh wow, I didn’t know he sang this song,” as he wrapped one arm around her shoulder. It was that kind of show, and it was going to be like that the whole night. Mood music to make moves too.
Cary even joked about overall mood of the evening by asking the crowd, “How many guys are here cause your girlfriend made you come?” Amidst some of the masculine nervous laughter from the audience Cary added, “Good for you.” He acknowledged there would be a lot of “sad” songs sung throughout the evening, and hoping to change some of the mood, he announced, “Fuck sad songs,” and went into an upbeat number.
Rachel Yamagata took the stage next, and agreeing with Cary, noted that, “Cary was right, there’ll be a lot of sad tongs tonight.” Midway during her set, she even joked that she was working on a new album. “It’s happier … you’re going to hate it,” she laughed.
Rachel’s set was soft and delicate, and if there was any criticism I could pull from the evening, I’d say that it would have nothing to do with the music, but rather the venue. The Fonda is a gorgeous venue, but a solo, acoustic, singer-songwriter, is hard pressed to compete with grand space and the ambient noise of from the tipsy chit-chatter from the audience. She’s had residencies at the Hotel Cafe in the past, and for her sound, especially playing solo acoustic, smaller more intimate venues would be better suited.
My favorite part of her set was when she covered Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough”. A lovely, minimalist cover that I would certainly buy a copy of it were available on iTunes.
Joshua Radin’s music … mellow, stripped down and emotionally exposed … makes women swoon. Where his past albums have been more moody, and often heartbreaking, his latest efforts, spawned from the joys of married life, is more upbeat and positive. Before jumping into his set, he assured the crowd that since it was a Saturday, “I won’t play too many sad songs … but this next one is sad one,” as he jumped into “You Got Growing Up To Do”.
Josh’s set continued and his audience was simply gazing upon the performance. The ambient noise that I heard during the opening acts had subsided, and each song performed by Josh was performed to totally engaged crowd. Seriously, you could hear a pin drop. Josh even acknowledges the audience’s respect for his music.
“Such a polite listening crowd. It usually doesn’t happen on a Saturday night.”
It was perhaps because the audience wanted to hear the story in the music. After all, Josh explained that the new record was written for a girl who he had feelings for, but was relegated to a “platonic relationship zone” because of 9 time zones. It all has a happy ending though, as he eventually married the once elusive catch.
Throughout the evening of beautiful, melodic music, we learned that “In Your Hands” was is wife’s favorite song. He recites the lyrics to “No Envy” before every show as it’s hit mantra. He finds joy in assisting the organization Little Kids Rock (www.LittleKidsRock.com) bringing music to underprivileged children, even bringing three of them on stage to perform “Beautiful Day”.
As the set continued, girls swooned more, and couples held each other closer. Though the show ended with a rousing covers “Don’t Think Twice” and “I Won’t Back Down”, if I had brought a date to the show, Josh could have been my modern day cupid. I’ll know better next time.