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Josh Rouse At The Black Orchid

By Jocelyn Geboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 20, 2006 6:19PM

Last night, Chicagoist was able to go see one of our recently new favorite artists, Josh Rouse, at what will probably *not* be one of our new favorite venues, the Black Orchid. We have only recently started hearing about the Black Orchid as a venue for music, and were unsure what was awaiting us. We called ahead of time and were told on the phone to expect a "30s style supper club -- like the Cotton Club, with cabaret style seating." Oh. Okay.

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Being the only one of our friends who knew who Josh Rouse was, we also were shocked to find that the show was sold out and that there were people (no less than five when the doors opened an hour before show time) waiting outside trying to get tickets to the show. The only reason we knew who Josh Rouse was, was due to the fact that a member of one our favorite bands had covered one of his songs in an acoustic set at Bad Dog Tavern once. We inquired and were told to get the album.

The opener was a chap from Canada by the name of Luke Doucet who came out sporting a suit and tie. Normally at a show like this, we're not in danger of scary speed metal or anything, so the worst that is going to happen is that we're potentially going to be bored. But Luke had some great stories to go along with his songs, and we were actually touched at some points. Score one for Canada.

On to Josh. We felt a little out of place with the standard XRT crowd, but we soldiered on with our notetaking and occasional picture snap. As mentioned, it was a sit-down show, with just Josh and an acoustic guitar. Normally, this is a treat; to hear an artist we love take their songs and strip them down, leaving the emotion behind that inspired them to write the song/s in the first place.

Read more about Rouse at the Orchid after the jump...

But, with the last two albums, 1972 and Nashville, there are songs which have layers and production value that were sorely missed in this bare bones setting. And that's a compliment to him, not a rip. Even back in the MTV Unplugged days, they had backing bands. His songs are just too good and complicated to have all of the layers stripped away.

He played plenty of favorites, and it was when he was accompanied by Luke Doucet on a couple of songs, in particular during the encore's "Love Vibrations," that things were rounded out just a little more to make the songs feel a little more like the Rouse we came to know and love.
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He played two songs off his new album, Subtitulo (pronounced Sub-tee-too-low), which he wrote in his new home of Spain, where he has been living for a year and a half. For those of you who missed the show, our sources say he'll be back in May at the Park West. For those of you who still haven't a clue, he's good. He should be of the presence of a James Blunt or an Aqualung, but his old label, Rykodisc just didn't do the work.

All in all, it was good. We're glad we were able to be there. But even though our old bones often have a hard time doing the three hour stand these days, it would have been nice to stand and move a little. This stuffy crap doesn't suit us so much. Just because we see the singer-songwriter now and then doesn't mean we still don't like to shake our hips.

Oh I Need All The Love
Winter In The Hamptons
Come Back (Light Therapy)
Quiet Town -- off the upcoming album, Subtitulo
My Love Has Gone
It Looks Like Love -- off the upcoming album, Subtitulo
Sad Eyes
Under The Milky Way -- cover of The Church
Under Your Charms

It's The Nighttime
Love Vibrations -- w/Luke Doucet

Images via smussyolay