Now/It's: Joshua Radin at City Winery

Online writing is an unforgiving muse. Actually, can one actually call online writing their “muse?” Is writing “content” an artistic endeavor? Who knows? If ever there were a candidate for such a possibility, let it be yet another self-effacing writeup from yours truly. Now that we’ve successfully crafted five sentences’ worth of an aimless scrutinizing aside, let us arrive at the true root of today’s wax poetic forum.

The theme of the day is three-fold - an operation in parts, if you will - a look at the nature of online writing and it’s unsanctioned commendation of the romantic potential of seeing a particular artist live. That might have been a little confusing, and that was on purpose, to further highlight the occasional ridiculousness of online writing. Rather than head further down nihilistic diatribe lane, let me dilute the theme at hand further - online writing provides a justification for someone (typically you, the reader) to purchase a ticket to artist x’s show.

That’s a pretty perverse way to look at things sure, but such is the general approach of most online publications (and this site is not excluded, believe you me). But sometimes, it’s nice to avoid the expected avenues and pathways to arrive at a reason why someone should attend any artist’s concert, show, shindig, expo, etc.

So, with long winded lede sufficiently satisfying the writer’s own neuroticism, let’s apply it toward the show du jour - Joshua Radin at City Winery. Most writers (presumptive, I know, but presumption acts as testament to our theme) would either arrive at the overall theme of “Joshua Radin makes a great date night show!” or “If you want to be ‘all in your feels’ go see Joshua Radin!” either through their own machinations, divine intervention, or the suggestion of an editor. Both of the proposed ledes are all well and good, and in all reality, factual.

That being said, you could probably give a brief synopsis of those recaps in all of about two minutes - “Such a gifted songwriter,” and “If you didn’t feel anything, you might need to get your heart checked out!” Again, neither blurb is necessarily wrong (though the second one might be a little more cringe-inducing), but ultimately, it’s been written a thousand times over about Joshua Radin. If you don’t believe me, feel free to check it out for yourself. I won’t be offended in the slightest.

Anyway, while Joshua Radin is certainly a gifted songwriter and crafts incredibly deft emotional appeals through his music, and failing to connect as an audience member is most definitely a shame, what might be overlooked is how supremely able Radin is as a master of ceremonies.

Rather than begin playing into a direct-input in the cavernous hall that is the Nashville City Winery stage, Radin opted for the intimacy of a condenser mic, and an acapella break in his opening tune. That’s the acoustic “Evening with” equivalent of going for an onside kick at the beginning of a football game (sorry for the sports reference, but I don’t enjoy GoT enough to entertain a proper reference. Ned Stark, anyone?). Further substantiating the claim, Radin was as charming as they come, explaining that the evening’s set would be sans-setlist, and offered some playful ribbing toward ultra-forlorn (in the best sense) opener, William Fitzsimmons - “I told William I have to start with some of my most hopeful stuff, so here’s my happiest song.” Best believed everyone in the room was charmed to all get out. He continued to win over the audience with some good old fashioned flattery, expressing that all to familiar concept of Nashville being an intimidating place to perform. But rather than leave it at that, Radin posted a poll - “How many people here tonight can play C, G, and D on the piano? [Applause break] Okay, how many people can play those chords on the guitar? [Another applause break] Alright, so that’s how many people will be able to tell if I screw up.” Naturally, everyone was tickled by the self deprecation.

But it wasn’t just Radin’s amusing demeanor that held everyone captive during the second show of the night, his songs are pretty damn good too. He provided plenty of background to many a song, some of which were more moving than others - like the post-breakup fallout that preceded “You Got Growin Up to Do,” which also featured a cheeky account of how Patty Griffin came to sing harmonies on the record. All throughout the evening there were accounts such as that, and a cameo or two, including Escondido’s Jessica Maros, which led to the crowd demanding (in the nicest way) Radin move to town.

So, with all of that, you’ve hopefully gathered a different perspective of Joshua Radin than that of the expected “Popular Acoustic Singer-Songwriter Is Good!” approach, but receive the same outlook all the same. There’s a lot to be said for Joshua Radin’s live set, music, pithiness, and ambience included, but ultimately, this is just one of many write-ups that will tell you such, and while some might be a little more inventive than others, they all share a similar sentiment, Joshua Radin is well worth a look.