Joshua Radin pleased all in attendance at Thursday night's intimate gig at Hard Rock Cafe in New York's Times Square. Playing a 40-minute set, Radin performed nine songs with his band. Rotating between old and new tracks, he created a dialogue with the audience, filling them in on the stories behind his songs and responding to questions and requests from fans when asked.
"It's good to be home," Radin said after taking the stage while tuning his guitar. "You gotta play in tune when you're in New York City," he joked before "Brand New Day," a track off his latest album, Simple Times. Radin's soft singing was never overpowered by the instrumental accompaniment and throughout the night the crowd was so quiet his voice was the only thing heard.
"I'm going to play you a sad song," he told the crowd. Midway through a fan screamed it was her birthday, to which Radin asked her name and dedicated "One of Those Days" to her, but not before revealing the heartache behind the song. "This is the only song I ever wrote in the bunk of a tour bus. It was freezing in Minneapolis and the bus wouldn't start and my girlfriend and I just split up."
Another fan interrupts and screams, "Screw her!" and Radin laughs and continues his tale.
"A girl was standing outside the bus waiting for me to come out. This 14-year-old girl shoved a picture with my ex-girlfriend in my face to sign. Not the easiest thing to do, but I got a song out of it."
With light guitar accompaniment and beautiful, emotive vocals Radin sings of heartbreak. "The sight of you is painful/So I crawl underneath my blanket where I can hide away/I know I can't take it anymore/'Cause I see now it's just one of those days."
Radin said "No Envy, No Fear" was inspired by an idea from Bob Dylan's biography and the best advice Dylan was ever given, "to lose all envy and all fear."
"At the time, I had so much envy and fear. Every time I play this song it helps me. Hopefully it helps you too," he said. Performing without a mic at the edge of the stage on acoustic guitar, Radin's voice reverberated throughout the venue. The audience was impressed and Radin seemed equally surprised. "It's rare when you get an audience so quiet when you can do that," he said.
Fans were happy to hear Radin is in the process of making a new record and got to witness a few new tracks Thursday night. "I've got this crazy badass rhythm section on this next song called 'Starting Over.'" A much darker and fuller sound than previous records, the crowd seemed pleased.
"I'm starting over so here we go/If I fall way down, down/Would you catch me?" Radin sang. "Something in the way you looked at me that day/Like someone far away you once knew," he continued. The instrumental interlude included heavier percussion, keyboards and guitar which helped emphasize the emotion behind Radin's vocals.
It's hard to believe Radin just started playing music five years ago. Having been on tour for the past four, he told the crowd "The Ones With the Light" was inspired from the people he meets on tour. With a fun melodica feature and increased electric guitar presence, Radin's newer material proves promising.
"The Rock and the Tide" is so new, Radin hasn't even taught the band yet. While explaining the song and how it is about someone he met on the road, Radin said, "When you're in this business you meet a lot of people being on tour. Either they're cool or they're not."
"Were they cool?" a fan asked.
"Yes she was very cool," Radin replied with a grin. The lyrics explain the song best: "Everyone gets what they want too fast these days/No one knows the way to make things last/Katie I'm through waiting/'Cause I need you now/I'll show how you could take my hand and save me."
Radin closed the night with three well known songs; "Today," "I'd Rather Be With You" and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright." Having become well known as a wedding song, Radin said "Today" wasn't inspired by a wedding as he's never been married. "Every time I hear someone used it I'm very flattered."
"I was expecting people not to listen tonight, but I'm so glad you did so I'm going to do something special," Radin told the crowd. Ending the night with Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," Radin and his entire band walked off the stage with their instruments in hand and performed in the middle of the floor as fans gathered in a circle around them. I couldn't think of a better way to end the night.
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