Print Edition: March 4, 2015
Joshua Radin performed at the Rio on Saturday night, Feb. 28, with Cary Brothers and Andrew Belle opening for him. The Rio proved to be a perfect venue for the show. It is intimate, which was certainly the theme of the night.
Cary Brothers, who is in fact one person, opened the show with a casual performance and great humour. He began with a few songs from his new album Lovin’ On You, captivating the audience with a guitar and smooth vocals. The instrumentals weren’t complex, but they set expectations for the rest of the show. Instead of flashy lights and smoke machines, the artists had their voices and the few instruments they brought, enhancing the sense of authenticity and intimacy.
Brothers took the time between his songs to talk to the audience and share jokes. He moved from using the guitar to the piano, explaining how when you’re on tour you lug clunky instruments around and end up with bruises and dings. He told the audience that he has a cut on his thumb, and when he thumbs a note on the piano it hurts. He vocalized this by singing, “ow, ow, ow,” on a particular note, which was hilarious.
By the time Andrew Belle took the stage, the audience had returned from the convention area with popcorn and drinks. Without addressing the audience, Belle jumped right into his first song with a percussion loop and guitar. His songs had a similar rootsy feel, but with an electric tone laced throughout. He played toned-down versions of songs from Black Bear, downplaying the electric sounds of that album.
His closing was anti-climatic: the song looped and faded, and Belle quietly left the stage. The lights faded, and stage crew prepared the scene for the final act of Joshua Radin.
Unlike many concerts I’ve been to, Radin addressed the audience like they were friends he hadn’t seen in a while. Before each song, he gave context to them, telling stories from his life, epiphanies that led to the music. It transformed the songs for me. I’ve heard the albums over and over again, but learning how and why they were created gave a whole new meaning to the lyrics.
Before the last few songs, Radin noted the audience looked a little sleepy because all of his songs had been slow and tender. He instructed everyone to stand and help the percussion with clapping and stomping.
“Even the balcony,” he said. “I’m sure it’s sturdy.”
The audience involvement raised the energy in the room significantly, and generated a feeling of belonging and unity — fitting, since the song was called “Belong.”
To finish the night, the encore featured an unplugged version of a Tom Petty song, and everyone including Cary Brothers and Andrew Belle joined in on a single microphone to perform it.