Yeah, the photo's not ideal, but I decided I didn't want to be That Guy standing there with his phone in the air above all the heads, constantly trying to shoot the concert. If I'd wanted good photos, I'd have brought an actual camera and scouted out a good place to stand that wouldn't inconvenience too many people behind me. I guess I'm just one of the few considerate concert-goers.
My wife and I were sitting at the back bar before the show, sipping on Sam Adams Summer Ale and people-watching. At one point, I noticed a man more well-dressed than those of us in our Jersey Shore summer attire -- he wore a pink shirt, a tie and grey slacks and vest -- and realized it was Zach Hickman. He came from somewhere near the front and walked out a "No entry" door leading outside to what looked like the backstage area of the summerstage. I imagine the tour bus was also accessible from that area. Later, while Tift Merritt continued her opening set, Hickman walked inside from the same door and simply made his way through the crowd and stepped behind the barriers next to the stage and started tuning guitars. If anyone else recognized him and his handlebar mustache, they did as I did and let him be.
With Bruce Springsteen on tour in Europe, I knew there was no chance of the Boss in the audience like Ritter's last Asbury Park show, but I still hoped for a cover of "The River" or "Tomorrow Never Knows" or another Springsteen tune. Instead, there were no covers (unlike his 2010 Town Hall shows in New York when he covered "Chelsea Hotel No. 2" and "Moon River" in separate shows). There was no mention of Springsteen at all, which maybe didn't surprise me, though I did expect one on some level. He did talk about "the water ... the sand ... ice cream ... with sand in it" and his first visit, with The Frames at the BE Gallery(?) some years ago: "After the show, we went swimming ... and then we got into a fight at a Dunkin Donuts."
The show was the usual, rockin' affair, with an ever-ebullient Ritter jumping around on stage and smiling through more than half his songs. This guy seriously loves what he does. As he sings in "Snow Is Gone": But I'm singing for the love of it - have mercy on the man who sings to be adored.
To ensure that I'd have some archive of the songs played, rather than relying on someone else to do it, I kept track. So here, Internets, is the setlist for Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band from June 27, 2012, at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey:
1 Orbital (Solo)
2 Good Man
3 Right Moves
4 Bright Smile
5 See Me Through
9 New Lover
11 Joy To You Baby (A new song; solo)
12 Snow is Gone Solo
14 Harrisburg (with an interlude of the refrain from "Happiness Is A Warm Gun")
15 Rattling Locks
16 Love Is Making Its Way Back Home
17 Girl In The War
19 Change of Time
20 Galahad Solo
21 Lillian, Egypt
22 To the Dogs Or Whoever
And here, for good measure, is a better photo, from the Asbury Park boardwalk: