As an avid music fan of all types of music it is rare that I go to a show in which I am not familiar with the music of the musician. I must admit that I have heard the name Joshua Radin, but had never heard any of his music. Before going to his show last night I did a search on YouTube and watched an appearance of his on the Ellen Show. It was enough for me to discover this was a musician whose music was mainly of the acoustic and romantic variety. Now I was going to discover what he was like in person.
I had two opening acts to get through first. First up was Madi Diaz. She was of the same musical category as Joshua Radin. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee Madi Diaz is a slight brunette whose latest album was released just over a week ago. Entitled We Threw Our Hearts in the Fire it is filled with folky Americana songs. Her 30 minute set was going along pretty unremarkably until she picked it up towards the end with a couple of peppier songs. She sings of heartbreak, but can do it in a catchy way musically speaking.
After a little rearranging of the stage A Fine Frenzy brought something a little bit different for the next 45 minutes. A Fine Frenzy is Alison Sudol and she too had just released her latest studio album this month, Pines. A Fine Frenzy fits more comfortably in the alternative category. Both of her parents were dramatic arts teachers and you can really see that in her onstage. Very emotive and well, dramatic in her movement about the stage she is almost like an actress playing different characters while singing.
The red head is now a blonde, but still remains a kind of poet who also plays the piano. Many of her songs are atmospheric and filled with emotion which is why they have often been used in poignant moments in numerous television shows. Her latest album as she told us has a theme running throughout it. It is literally about pining while also about the outdoors. To be more specific the songs are about a pine tree that longs for the independence to make choices for itself. Sudol’s delicate, almost girl-like voice fits this subject perfectly. Though her voice is flexible enough that whatever emotion or story she is trying to tell it can adapt.
Swinging back and forth between haunting and to be honest creepiness A Fine Frenzy, judging from the reaction of the crowd, hit the right notes and chords. All songs were listened to and appreciated by the less than sold out crowd. The emotionality and swelling choruses were definitely enjoyed. Her brand of whimsy was right up the alley of the couple of hundred in attendance.
Taking the stage wearing a big white toque he had bought across the street from the venue, Joshua Radin endeared himself quickly to those few already not won over by his talent, easygoing nature and boyish good looks by speaking a couple of lines in French and voicing his love of Montreal crowds. I have to agree with Radin as other than a couple of yahoos who unfortunately stood around me and proceeded to talk loudly throughout much of the show most fans were extremely quiet when the nature of the song called for it and clapped and sang along when need be. All this, as noticed by Radin, without any instruction from the performer.
Despite the fact that there were a couple of hundred other people there with me I felt like I was at a show put on just for me. The stage was set up like it was someone’s living room with lamps, tables and vintage boxes all over the place. Radin and his music are complicit in this atmosphere of intimacy. Throughout many of his songs Radin uses a whispery singing style. The intimacy level was upped between most of the songs which he used to tell the stories behind the songs. He has an easygoing and likable nature about him. Then when he moves on to singing his storytelling nature is confirmed. Each one lets you into a moment in time in Radin’s life and how he was feeling. The result was most of the crowd being completely charmed with his witty and funny nature.
Half of Radin’s set was comprised of romantic or heartbroken and soft acoustic based while the other was upbeat soulful bluegrass numbers. Using his at times powerful and plaintive voice to his advantage I’m sure that Radin had quite a few female members of the audience falling head over heels for him. New and older material was intermingled with the new songs getting as warm a response as the better known stuff.
At a couple of different points during the evening Radin’s four-piece backing left the stage and he used that opportunity to go completely acoustic. Stepping away from the microphone he came to the edge of the stage with his acoustic guitar and dropped the whispery vocals. With plenty of power his songs and voice went to another level.
Joshua Radin Setlist:
1) No Envy, No Fear
2) Brand New Day
3) Anywhere Your Love Goes
5) Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Better
6)Let It Go
7) One of Those Days
8) You Got Growin’ Up To Do
9) She’s So Right
10) The Ones With the Light
11) Where You Belong
13) I’d Rather Be With You
14) Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (Bob Dylan cover)