Josh Rouse & The Long Vacations @ Nottingham Glee Club 25/1/12

Nottingham Glee Club is an odd venue for music. The venue is clearly more intended for comedy than it is for live music: the audience shuffles in very early due to the unreserved seating to be greeted by food menus and is usually shrouded in darkness for the live performances. These factors aren’t necessarily detrimental to the musical experiences; but do lead to an entirely different live experience to what one would experience at other venues. This is worth noting because in my previous experience I have felt that the musicians on offer have needed to adjust their usually assured routine for this alternative set up.

However for Josh Rouse, there is a different feeling to the Glee Club: the moment the audience files in, this feels like it is a night of triumph and celebration for Josh Rouse. Despite releasing his debut album fourteen years ago, Josh Rouse has been a relatively unfamiliar face. However, in recent years he has moved from his native America to Spain to live with his wife; this has led to a more popular, imaginative new blending of sounds. Josh takes his refreshing brand of chilled Americana and adds a bit of Spanish guitar and European charm to create a music that is gaining an increasing following in recent years.

Josh Rouse and his backing duo emerge and there is already the feeling that they want to engage the audience with a fresh show. Rouse looks relaxed in a slightly tattered Waistcoat, with his legs crossed as he sits on a stall slightly off centre stage, his bassist is fresh faced and talented, and the drummer begins drumming with his hands to create a softer sound. By the third song, the recent ‘To the Clock, to the City’, the drummer has taken up a ukulele and the audience is engaged with every moment of the song, as it leads to its crescendo.

Josh Rouse’s job could be considered done already, but the show keeps building to a remarkable climax. The audience in the Glee Club tonight are clearly aficionados of Josh Rouse’s music, as all songs that span his impressive back catalogue are well received; with songs as varied as the freedom-loving ‘I will live on Islands’, to the more bluesy ‘1972’ impressing the audience. Every time I cast my eyes around the venue, the whole audience are tapping their legs in time to the sublime Mediterranean sounds on offer.

As Josh Rouse prepares for the final song he gets the audience on their feet, and if it weren’t for the tables, the Glee Club would finally feel like a properly engaging gig venue, as the whole audience boogies down to some toe-tapping loveable music. After this song, the audience haven’t stopped their frantic applauding before Rouse returns a couple of minutes later and launches into an encore, which includes crowd-favourite ‘Love Vibration’, with the audience singing every word back to him.

As I go to leave, I get the chance to chat to Josh Rouse and he certainly seemed pleased with all parts of the set and the reaction from the Nottingham crowd. The feeling is mutual as the audience seemed unanimous in adoring the whole gig. We have been lucky enough to enjoy music that would be perfect for a sunny day in the Mediterranean, but still seems just as engaging and enjoyable tonight on a cold Nottingham night.

Liam Coleman

Liam has been listening to: Metronomy – The Bay


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