Josh Ritter may have the most welcoming smile in all of music. The 38-year-old Idahoan has the grin and charm that we usually associate with a Disney prince. Saturday night at the University of Colorado’s Macky Auditorium he had the symphony to back it up.
Ritter and his Royal City Band were joined on stage for a once-in-a-life-time paring with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. Under the leadership of conductor Gary Lewis, the Philharmonic matched Ritter song for song and filled the 2,052 seat auditorium in the process.
“Thank you for being here for this real ‘life’ moment,” said Ritter, addressing the crowd. “It’s like standing in the middle of a giant piano.”
Ritter had a hard time containing his excitement and didn’t really bother trying. The breaks between songs were filled with gushings of gratitude to his fans, the Philharmonic, and his family who traveled from Idaho to see him.
The show also marked a return to touring after a nearly two year break. Ritter and his band eagerly played new music off the album that was the cause for that hiatus. That album, “Sermon on the Rocks,” will hit shelves on October 16.
But that didn’t stop hardcore fans from singing along to new songs like “Get Ready to Get Down” and “The Stone” as if they’d been listening to them for years.
The genteelness and direct delivery of Ritter’s guitar playing and the tightness of his band made the accompaniment of the Philarmonic a smooth transition. If he had the budget, you’d imagine he wouldn’t go anywhere without a 30-plus piece orchestra.
Ritter finished the show with crowd favorites “Girl in the War,” and “Kathleen.” But the highlight of the evening came after intermission, when the auditorium doused the lights and Ritter sang an unaccompanied version of “In The Dark,” off his 2006 release, “The Animal Years.”