Josh Ritter @ Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, 25 Jul
Josh Ritter is in a celebratory mood, sharing songs from Fever Breaks in the city he studied in two decades ago
Josh Ritter is known for his joyous persona, but tonight he is borderline ecstatic, bounding onstage and immediately expressing his gratitude to each and every audience member as if we’d all chipped in to buy him a private island. "I love you guys!" the Idaho-born songwriter exclaims.
A couple of songs in we find out why Ritter is in such good spirits: he studied here in the late 90s. Tales of performing solo in The Elephant House (now something of a sacred place for Harry Potter fans) are followed by a tribute to his "beautiful" friend and one-time touring companion Scott Hutchison. Ritter’s take on Old Old Fashioned, recently collected in Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight is aired to the delight of many, as he and his band huddle around a solitary microphone.
Zack Hickman, Ritter’s bass player of quite some time, is on fine form during a hushed performance of Another New World, later confessing to having first arrived in Scotland as a "cast member of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat." Kathleen coaxes a heartwarming singalong from the Edinburgh crowd, while Girl in the War showcases the sublime harmonies of Ritter’s band, their voices rewardingly high in the mix.
Ritter – who performed to a sold out Òran Mór in Glasgow yesterday – doesn’t put a foot out of line during a set that borrows heavily from his latest record Fever Breaks (Blazing Highway Home is a particular highlight), while also meandering through his already vast back catalogue (10 records in 20 years).
There isn’t a great deal of urgency or gravitas to Ritter’s set – which is potentially only as noticeable as it is due to our current political… shall we say, turmoil? But his relaxed, celebratory approach ("I feel such gratitude. Thank you for being here") is one his audience cherish.