Josh Ritter & Simone Felice, live at The Old Museum in Brisbane, 5 July 2012

(side note: I have a few live recordings of the night. They’re not good quality, with a fair bit of snap, crackle and pop hissing included… but I’ll pepper this post with a few of the tracks, for those who were there and would like to relive the night)

There are some gigs that you’ll always remember for being magical. This was one of those.

Last night I headed out to one of my favourite live music venues, the Old Museum in Brisbane, to catch Josh Ritter and Simone Felice performing live. Josh Ritter is, in my opinion, one of the songwriters of our generation, and the lyricist of our times. My admiration of the guy knows no bounds, so I would quite happily have shelled out the money to catch Josh alone… the fact that Simone Felice and band were performing too was just a happy coincidence, really.

Josh Ritter, live at the Old Museum, Brisbane

Josh Ritter is the type of guy that you would love to share a drink with. He’s clearly smarter than you, but has this easygoing smile that puts you at ease. And although he’s a joker between songs, when he’s singing the guy is so sincere it’s heartbreaking.

Listen: Josh Ritter – The Curse (live at the Old Museum, Brisbane)

I’ve long held the belief that Josh Ritter is the best songwriter of our generation. The guy’s interplay with intelligent, wry lyrics and emotion is simply faultless. And one of my “live gig dreams” came true last night, when he played “Monster Ballads”. It was all I could do to keep the lump in my throat down. You could have heard a pin fall amongst the crowd, holding their collective breath lest this feeling was frightened away.

Listen: Josh Ritter – Monster Ballads (live at the Old Museum, Brisbane)
Listen: Josh Ritter – Naked as a Window/Girl in the War (live at the old Museum, Brisbane)

One of the most endearing moments of the night came during one of Josh’s last songs, the ever-amusing “Galahad”. After the crowd laughed at the angel’s question to Galahad of why he wanted to go to heaven, Josh started laughing and struggled to get out the next verse because of the smile on his face. It was this real shared moment between artist and audience, and the sheer joy felt by both was something I’ll remember for quite some time.

Listen: Josh Ritter – Galahad (live at the Old Museum, Brisbane)

Simone Felice & Band 0 The Old Museum, Brisbane

You know, I think – like me – quite a few people last night had come along to hear Josh play, and largely discovered Simone Felice and band last night. And what a revelation it was. Despite being a fan of Felice Brothers, I hadn’t dived too deep into Simone’s self-titled solo album just yet, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

And you know, since last night I’ve been thinking of a way to describe what happened, but I can’t quite put words around it without it coming off as… well, a bit mythic. You see, last night Simone Felice and the band somehow managed to call Music down onto that stage. It was like there was this shimmering light, dancing all around them, laughing between the notes and twirling them around with joy.

That’s what happened. They brought Music into the world, and she danced with us all night.

And when they came out for an encore including “Atlantic City”? Hell, Levon himself sat in on that number. Because maybe everything that dies someday comes back.

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