Well, sort of. He performed most of his new record in a venue called Space. So, that counts, right?
Flanked by his band, with shades drawn, a confident Josh Rouse takes the quaint stage in Evanston, Illinos. The small, candlelit room is filled with applause. A grinning Rouse responds, "How's everyone doing tonight?"
He explains to us that he's just released his 12th album, and jokes that one day he'll be performing his new music for us in nursing homes. 'Cause we're all old. Get it?
Seeming happy and content, Rouse flashes another bright smile, and the band is off and running. The opener is a new song, "Ordinary People, Ordinary Lives," from his latest record Love In The Modern Age. It's an upbeat and bubbly song, that meanders through the mundane, everyday lives of two people. It outros with a melodic jam that sets the stage for a night of fun.
Twelve albums in and Josh Rouse is still creating. He's still living his dream, and you can feel the energy in the room.
Long time bass player James Haggerty leads us into the next song with a funky lick, straight out of the 70's. The crowd instantly knows what's coming next, “Come Back," from one of Rouse's best albums 1972.
Throughout the night we are treated to a handful of songs from 1972, including the title cut, where lead guitar player Xema Fuertes shines, with some timely fingerpicking and tasteful solos.
A beautiful version of "Flight Attendant" is played along with the joyous jam that is "Slaveship," which couldn't be complete without drummer Marc Pisapia's high pitched backing vocals, "YEAHHHHHH!" This band makes everything Josh does, just a little bit better.
New singles "Salton Sea,” and "Love in the Modern Age," both showcase a mature Rouse, trying to navigate love, and life, in the modern age. This becomes a theme on “Businessman,” as we find him singing about a career that has turned into a "24 hours a day" lifestyle, stripping valuable time from his family. Complete with galloping drums and airy synths, it's a fresh sound and new look for this businessman.
More new music was played throughout the night, including "Women and the Whim," and “There Was A Time.” The latter including more tales from the road, where "one drink, one pill, and one phone call wasn’t enough." The man is honest if nothing else.
The highlight of the night had to be his song "Nebraska." This is where it all started for me. I heard this single on CMJ (College Music Journal), and have been a fan of Josh ever since.
“Directions,” is another one of those hits that Josh released long ago. It's an anthem of sorts that had the whole crowd singing, "Don't like the direction you are going to."
“Under Cold Blue Stars" kept the crowd swinging, while “Hollywood Bass Player,” my wife's favorite, was good, clean fun.
The surprise of the night came when the band covered The Smiths' classic, "This Charming Man."
"Love Vibration" is the encore, which leaves standing room only. As the man himself is leaving the stage, he hi-fives my wife. She hasn't washed her hand since.
It's amazing how Rouse weaves 20 years of music into one set, and it all sounds fresh and cohesive. Go see this troubadour perform.
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