If you know me, you know I am not a huge fan of the City Winery. I will only go if there is someone I really want to see, or on a special occasion.
Josh Rouse and Grant Lee Phillips played on my birthday (10/17/18) and my wife surprised me with tickets. She also invited family members which made the occasion even more special. It was an awesome gesture and a great night.
For the record, City Winery has great sound. Clean acoustics, and a beautiful stage, where you can hear a pin drop, literally. But the constant clanking of forks and knives takes away from the charm. Also, it's hard to focus on a musician, or their music, when the disgusting stench of seafood or fish lingers around you. Having a beer or soda is fine, but eating a sit-down meal at a concert is not my thing. I want to focus on the music.
Josh opened the show, playing songs from his entire catalog. "Quiet Towns," and "It's the Nighttime" turned out beautiful. "1972," is my wife's favorite so that was a bonus.
He asked for crowd participation on "Love In The Modern Age," and he got it. A little boy in the front row couldn't stop singing the "oh, oh, ooh" part. Even after his dad told him he was only supposed to sing in the chorus, he sang throughout the whole song. The dad looked a bit flustered, and I wanted him to know that the rest of us at the table were ok with it.
So, I reached over, put my hand on his shoulder, and politely said with a smile, "He's not bothering us, or anyone else for that matter." I explained that I have daughters and that we thought it was cute. The dad told me that his boy is autistic and that the kid loves Josh Rouse. So much so, that they have bought him all of Josh's records and he knows the lyrics to nearly every song. Which was true, the boy sang every song, while his eyes lit up like Christmas trees.
Apparently, he lines these records up at home, in rows, keeping them in a certain order. Both parents said they were apprehensive to bring him to the show but really wanted their son to see Josh live. So, they called City Winery ahead of time and got the ok to bring their son. Now, this is a reason to like City Winery.
"Crystal Falls," one of Rouse's happier tunes, kept us upbeat before he took it down a bit with "Flight Attendant." Other favorites that worked well in this intimate setting included "Dressed Up Like Nebraska," "Businessman," "Salton Sea," and "It's Good To Have You."
Grant Lee Phillips culled music from his many albums, eventually playing his biggest hit "Mockingbird." He and Josh played a new song they recorded together for this tour called "Empire State."
The highlight of the night was when both artists played a unique cover of The Church's "Under The Milky Way."
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