I wasn’t sure what to expect from a gig in a library. Upon entering the Mitchell Library we were directed down to the computer area, and with a large crowd already gathered down there I was surprised that it seemed that the gig would be taking place right there. Of course, moments later the doors to the theatre were opened and a more conventional gig venue was revealed.
The theatre within the Mitchell Library was small, which lended to a more intimate atmosphere. I managed to score a seat in the second row, close enough to see every smile from Josh. He smiled a lot through his performance and clearly enjoyed being on stage playing.
The set, in the main, showcased material from Josh’s latest album with his band The Long Vacations. Songs like Movin’ On, Diggin’ In The Sand and Oh, Look What The Sun Did were mellow and perfectly suited to the venue.
Those sunny, Spanish-flavoured songs were punctuated by tracks from Josh’s two most critically-acclaimed records, Nashville and 1972, with stand-outs being It’s The Night-time and Love Vibration, which brought an impromptu dance-along from the audience.
It was somewhat strange sitting at a gig with the vague aroma of coffee wafting through the venue, and it felt even stranger – almost rebellious, perhaps? – to be drinking beer in a library. The general chatter amongst the audience as we filtered out of the theatre seemed to be that this was a tad boring compared to previous experiences of Josh Rouse and that The Mitchell Library was the wrong choice of venue. However, this was my first time seeing him and I’ve become quite immune to the idea of sitting in a theatre for a gig, having seen Ryan Adams make the theatre his natural habitat last year.
Josh Rouse is a supremely talented songwriter, his voice is fantastic and he plays the harmonica. So, despite the set seeming to be a little on the short side – they couldn’t have been on stage for much more than 80 minutes – this was a very enjoyable evening.