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MusicUnderFire | February 14, 2016

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Show Review: Josh Ritter @ Portland’s Crystal Ballroom 3/21/13


American singer-songwriter Josh Ritter performed before a packed house at Portland’s iconic Crystal Ballroom Thursday evening – and there’s no doubt fans will be talking about it for years to come. On tour to promote his just-released Beast In Its Tracks, Ritter’s two-hour setlist included selections spanning an illustrious songwriting career with a heavy emphasis on his new material.

Born and raised in Moscow, Idaho, 37-year old Ritter has been playing music since he was just a teen. After graduating from college, he moved to Scotland to attend the School of Scottish Folk Studies, later returning to Idaho. His music can best be described as alternative folk-rock graced with beautiful, unique, other-worldy synthesizer touches.

Ritter’s setlist Thursday night included “Joy to You Baby” “The Appleblossom Rag” and “Hopeful,” each different, each another outstanding example of his approach to music and songwriting, and, all from the new release. Fans sang with gusto to “Joy to You Baby” and “Appleblossom Rag,” among tracks Ritter wrote in the wake of a recent divorce.

“The Curse” from his “So Runs the World Away” release, and “The Temptation of Adam” from his 2007 “The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter” were other show highlights.

An exhuberant Ritter and an adoring audience

Smiling broadly throughout the night, Ritter himself appeared both exuberant and well-pleased with audience response and participation, stopping early on between songs to express his sincere appreciation for both the venue and the audience.

Some of us may be rather wishing we had videotaped at least part of Thursday night’s show. Ritter is one of those rare, super-talented artists who somehow flies below the radar, even after 18-20 years and 7 CD’s.  If you don’t believe me, check out Andrew Peterson’s “Rabbit Room” blog article, “Why I Can’t Stop Listening to Josh Ritter”:

If you missed Thursday night’s performance, take a look at his website ( for more concert information (scroll down).

Upcoming Josh Ritter dates include: Denver on March 27, Toronto on April 16, Chicago on April 27 and Philadelphia, where he’ll play The Trocadero on May 16.