Josh Rouse at Islington Assembly Hall
Josh Rouse returns to London after about a year, serenading fans with temperate acoustics and meaningful lyrics in a set that has the feel of a private performance at the Islington Assembly Hall.
While promoting his latest studio album, Happiness Waltz, the American folk-pop singer-songwriter from Nebraska (now based in Spain) engages the audience by opening with the classic Dressed Up Like Nebraska from his debut album of the same title. Although the crowd appear subdued, with no one dancing and minimal swaying throughout the better half of the night, they’re receptive in their cheering as they silently appreciate the music.
As he plays more recent material like This Movie’s Way Too Long the tone picks up with greater energy from the band, as the bassist lightheartedly jives along, animatedly nodding his head to the beat.
With the exception of colourful overhead lighting, few effects are incorporated into the show but there is some sense of showmanship with the mild fog that fills the stage. In the end it all proves unnecessary as Rouse creates an atmosphere that is intimate and personal as he closes his eyes and recites the lyrics to Saturday.
He speaks volumes with his songs, narrating a story with the positive words of A Lot Like Magic. Insightful and telling, he sings: “My children have grown and I’m still standing here. I still live each day like the very last one, I’ll rise with the furs and I’ll set with the sun.”
Twelve tracks in and the crowd starts to show their enthusiasm as they head bop and thump their feet to the tunes and Rouse drops to his knees to fervently play the last chords of It’s the Nighttime.
Highlights of the set the also the heartbreaking Sad Eyes and the groovy Live Vibration – unfortunately no trace of fan favourites Directions and Late Night Conversation.
With the audience’s excitement at its peak, they demand an encore and the final number Winter in the Hamptons rhythmically contrasts the rest of the set. The base drumming stands out and one member of the audience even starts to dance – a joyful conclusion to an honest and smooth set.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information and future events visit Josh Rouse’s website here.
Watch the video for Julie (Come Out of the Rain) here: