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Josh Rouse with The Bees

Schuba's, Chicago, IL

April 26, 2004

 

I was excited for weeks before the concert about the prospect of seeing Josh Rouse not once, but twice at Schuba's in the same week. To set the scene, Schuba's is one of the premiere live music venues in Chicago. It's smallish (250 people during sold out shows), attracts a wide variety of musical talent and, in turn, usually benefits in an attentive, respectful audience.

 

The first night's opener was the Bees. Fronted by Daniel Tashian, better known as Josh Rouse's multi-instrumentalist, the Bees have recently been touring with Guster.  Meeting Bees' bassist, John Deadrick, before the show, we asked him to describe the Bees' sound. Jokingly, John qualified it as a cross between Matthew Sweet and Motley Crue.. Matthew Crue, if you will. We'd just have to wait and hear for ourselves. The Bees put on a very entertaining performance - great music, good lyrics, very nice chemistry between band members.  They played 8 - 9 songs with very little chitchat in between songs.  Definitely worth another listen.

 

 

After a relatively brief set change, Josh Rouse took the intimate stage.  Dressed in a retro 70's polo and signature corduroy jacket, Rouse politely greeted the crowd commenting on how quiet we all were.  He opened with the infectiously rhythmic tune, 'Comeback'; a song that pleads with the sun to shine again to combat seasonal affective disorder during a long Norwegian night.  The song is already a hit overseas, and was released as a single on March 1st here in the states.  At some point in the evening, Rouse joked, "I'm huge in Europeń getting a big laugh from the crowd.

 

 

The set list included a healthy amount of songs from '1972,' his newest release, and a collection of fan favorites from 3 of his 4 other albums (such as 'Feeling No Pain,' 'Marvin Gaye,' 'Miracle' and 'Late Night Conversation') as well as a lively cover of Gillian Welch's 'Look at Miss Ohio.' Early in the set, Rouse had the entire audience feeling his 'Love Vibration' with an ever so slight hip movement that is quite sexy, in my opinion.  Rouse and the band also treated us to atmospheric 'Rise' and 'Under Your Charms' which I hadn't heard live yet. They were both definite highlights of the evening.

 

It was such a treat watching this tight-knit group of musicians create sound together with Rouse subtly orchestrating the song progression with a look or nod of his head.  As an added bonus, Brad Jones (talented producer of '1972' and other albums by Marshall Crenshaw, Jill Sobule, Ass Ponys, etc.) was filling in for Tashian on guitar. 

 

As I've seen at other Josh Rouse shows, they ended the set with 'Flight Attendant' with Rouse leaving the stage before the end to give a chance for the audience to really attend to the other band members. After a very short break, Rouse returned to the stage to perform a solo acoustic version of 'Sparrows Over Birmingham' in which the crowd spontaneously morphed into his gospel choir filling in the quiet spaces ÷ "wedding bells ring... church choir sing... beautiful one... it's a sad tune.ń  Then, the band rejoined Rouse for an energetic rendition of 'Directions.'

 

 

A great night all around, save the annoying yelling guys standing dangerously close to my friends and I in the front row whom had no sense of when their inane comments and song requests were falling on deaf ears.  Note to concert goers, if the first three or four times you yell something and the band members don't respond, or look at each other with a look of horror ÷ cease the action. Just a little friendly advice. Oh yeah, see Josh Rouse live whenever you get a chance ÷ you won't regret it!

 

To find out more information about Josh Rouse, visit his website at www.joshrouse.com.