I love seeing my favourite singers and bands live, particularly ones who play in intimate venues, and especially ones I’ve seen once or twice before. Joshua Radin is no exception – I saw him about six years ago at The Espy, and then four years ago at The Forum, and both shows were fantastic. Last night Radin played at the Corner Hotel in Richmond and it was great to see him play a small venue with a cosy crowd of loyal fans.
Radin always plays a great mix of old and new songs, and last night was no exception. Opening with one of his earliest self-proclaimed ‘Whisper Rock’ crowd favourites No Envy, No Fear, during which he went off mike and belted out a verse, he set the tone for a authentic and heartfelt set. Continuing with crowd favourites Brand New Day and I’d Rather Be With You, he confessed he dislikes artists who only play new material at their shows, something I’m sure many of us agree with. Radin’s shows are always peppered with personal anecdotes and crowd chatter, which makes him a stand out performer, and he introduced one of my favourites, You’ve Got Growing Up To Do, by explaining he wrote it huddled under the lights of an ATM vestibule in pouring rain, fifteen minutes after his girlfriend broke up with him. Radin’s affable nature, even when telling stories about ostensibly having his heart ripped out, make his music even more relateable and appealing, and his entire set was filled with stories about each song’s origin.
Playing with just two bandmates, the stripped back, acoustic sound he’s known for is easily transferable from studio to stage. He continued his set with Only You, a gorgeous, lilting rendition of the 80s Yazoo song, the beautiful Will’s Lullaby, written in New York during Hurricane Katrina, and then moved on to a song from Onwards and Sideways, his newest album. We’ll Keep Running Forever is just one of the many songs he penned to woo his current girlfriend, and he followed the folksy love song with Today. Pairing those two songs side by side in the set list was a smart choice – listening to the catchy melodies of both, their lyrics perfectly encapsulate the beginnings of a love story in very different ways.
Radin then moved on to a song I’ve loved for a long time, but he confessed that he couldn’t play it for a many years, having written it with an ex. Paperweight is the kind of song that makes you think of tangled sheets and long, lazy Sundays spent lying in bed with your beloved, and Radin’s deep, raspy voice makes the song sound deliciously seductive live. He debuted a new untitled song after that, then performed Underwater, Belong, and My, My Love (the latter two both gems from his latest album). It was about this time that he commented that he was a corny guy who loves, love, and that his fans must also be nice people. “This is just a nice show for nice people who want to hear some nice music,” he espoused, grinning out at the crowd. He’s not wrong – the audience was attentive and respectful, getting louder during the faster numbers and staying quietly, happily observant during the softer ballads. His final song was Winter, a number I think he played each time I’ve seen him (and why not – it’s a beautiful song), and his encore was the energetic Bob Dylan song Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, which he sang entirely off mike, proving once again what a cracker of a voice he has as he belted it out to the back of the room.
I was hoping to hear my firm favourite, Lovely Tonight (seriously, go and listen to it and tell me it isn’t the most beautifully written love song. I dare you), as well as Road To Ride On (a song I listened to a lot when I was pregnant with my daughter, so it gives me all the feels when I hear it now). I hung around the back of the Corner Hotel after the show and managed to meet Radin briefly and asked him if he ever plays Road To Ride On live, but he said it’s such a big song that he needs a six piece band to do it justice, which I agreed with. Still hopefully next time he comes down under he’ll include one or both of those songs. A girl can dream, right? He was lovely to chat to, even briefly. I wish I had stayed longer, but it was freezing cold, and I had a hot shower and warm bed calling my name!
Joshua Radin is playing a show in Sydney tonight, and one in Brisbane tomorrow night, so if you’ve always wondered what he’s like live, get yourself to one of his shows. He’s an genial, entertaining performer who manages to convey a subtle vulnerability as he sings about love, heartbreak and the journey from one place to the other and back again. Listen to his albums, then listen to him live – he sounds even even better in person, making him a truly remarkable artist. His latest album, Onwards and Sideways is availble on iTunes now.
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