Joshua Radin

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Earlier in the week I got a random email from Ticketmaster reminding me I had tickets to a concert on Thursday. I had completely forgotten I’d ever bought them. Joshua Radin, the concert was, at the Fillmore. So anyway, Thursday night I went up to see it. Thanks to my flaky autopilot I accidentally turned off 101 onto King St instead of Octavia, and that combined with the inevitable “wait, why do I see Ocean Beach?” from driving straight past it, I was a bit late. One of the two openers, Hana Pestle, was midway through a cover of ‘Creep’ when I got there.

I’ve always thought of openers as friends of the band, getting to abuse said friendship to steal a few minutes of fame… i.e. definitely musicians, but not made for greatness. Not that it’s always been true, really – some, like the High Kings that played before Celtic Woman, impressed me enough to buy their stuff. But there’s always been an unmistakable gradient between the openers and the main act.

Not so much this time, though that’s entirely a compliment to the openers, not a criticism of Joshua Radin. Hana Pestle’s ‘Creep’ was quite good, and her own song or two she sang afterwards weren’t half bad. But it was her rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ that really got me. Now, this Rufus Wainright* classic has been covered nearly as many times – who am I kidding, way more times than even Stairway to Heaven, and most of them are terrible. Truly terrible. There’s maybe three or four that aren’t horrible, top of the list of which is now Hana Pestle’s. Sadly her live performance was substantially better than what she has available on iTMS or MySpace. 🙁

After her came Erin McCarley, whom was also really good. An almost humorously strong voice for such a tiny girl. Alas she only has a single available on iTMS. I hadn’t heard it before – ‘Pony’ – but it’s apparently been around a bit.

Anyway, Joshua Radin was great, as expected. Seemed to get off to a shaky start, funnily enough, but quickly got into it and the whole performance was really good. I was a little disappointed for him at the somewhat sparse turnout, but from the way he himself talked about his career it sounds like he’s still on the up… I’d assumed he’d “made it”, so to speak, given I’ve heard several of his songs in many TV shows or movies or wherever else – heck, it was ‘Winter’ on Scrubs that had me discover him to begin with. But apparently not; he’s only been playing for five years, writing for three and a half. Pretty impressive.

And as always all I could do was shake my head and chuckle when he did the standard thing of saying goodbye and walking off stage, only to come back on a minute later… I don’t think I’ve yet seen any performance in S.F. where they don’t do that, yet I noticed a few people did leave in the interim, apparently unaware of how this works here. 🙂 Anyway, his second last song was Winter, his first ever written, from [bad] memory. His last was apparently the first song he ever learned – I didn’t recognise it, and don’t know the name, but it was notable if nothing else because he jumped down off the stage, walked to the middle of the crowd, and played it entirely acoustically. Very well, I should add, especially given he quite had to raise his voice to be well enough heard by everyone.

So that was all really good.

* = Yeah yeah, so it’s originally written and performed by Leonard Cohen, but, I don’t consider that the definitive version. Sorry dude. 🙂

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