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With winter just on the horizon on a chilly December mid-week evening, singer-songwriter Joshua Radin stopped into the intimate W XYZ Bar at the Aloft Hotel in downtown Minneapolis for a one-off acoustic performance as part of the chain’s semi-regular live music series.
Radin and band had recently returned from a European tour and his following has always been steady in the area, so fans packed the lobby of the hotel just across from the site of this season’s Super Bowl for a generous hour-long acoustic performance as part of this free admission concert series.
The event was co-sponsored by the hosting hotel, along with local radio station Cities 97 and Coca-Cola, who offered up complimentary 8oz glass bottles, personalized on the label with the event name, and early attendees even received free small Bluetooth wireless speakers as gifts as well.
“I didn’t have time to make a setlist… I figured I’d wing it” Radin said, “…I’m not gonna tell Bradley either” as the audience laughed along, referring to the guitarist to his right he brought along with. The Cleveland native has gone the self-released route since moving on from the Mom+Pop label in 2012, with his most recent being The Fall, released earlier this year.
“They said come to Minneapolis in December… this feels real!” Radin said, referring to the cold temps, reminiscent of his growing-up days in Ohio.
Radin’s 2006 cover of the 1982 Yazoo hit, ‘Only You’ is a prime example of his hushed vocals and gently strumming guitar, taking the song to its bare essence as a piece of confessional storytelling and songs like 2008’s delicate ‘I’d Rather Be With You’ had to fight to be heard over the knock of billiard balls in a front corner, some audience chatter, and the bustle of a downtown hotel lobby, but eventually won out.
Playing 2006’s ‘Winter’ seemed very appropriate with its lyric, “I remember the sound of your November downtown and I remember the truth, a warm December with you” as the crowd huddled with cocktails and hot chocolates. Radin was loose enough to even take requests- playing ‘Today’, the new ‘High and Low’ (which brought the crowd to life by singing and clapping along) and the optimistic ‘Beautiful Day’.
“I’ve got to play a cover song if I’m in Minneapolis” Radin said mentioning the Minnesota roots of his favorite songwriter Bob Dylan, as the duo then went off-mic, away from their front of fireplace set-up to join the crowd in the middle maze of lounge couches, for a journeyman strumming version of1963’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’ with fitting lyrics, ”Where I’m bound, I can’t tell, but goodbye’s too good a word, so I’ll just say fare thee well” to end the evening.
Though more suited to a hushed club or small theater, Joshua Radin made the very most of things, playing a promotional hotel lobby show to many of his local and most loyal fans, even sticking around after, for pictures and a meet and greet to anyone that waited.
The singing troubadour treks out again, starting next March with another run of intimate gigs (mostly at major cities’ City Winery locations) and a chance to see him in a more optimal setting to better appreciate his musical vision.
Joshua Radin at W XYZ Bar, Aloft Hotel Minneapolis (13 Dec 2017)