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Live review: Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations, The Sage Gateshead

JOSH ROUSE ... remains relatively unknown.
JOSH ROUSE ... remains relatively unknown.

AMERICAN singer-songwriter Josh Rouse has been on a long journey throughout his career.

The Nebraskan stopped off at Nashville for a few years, before moving to the south of Spain, where he still lives.

His two most acclaimed albums, 1972 and Nashville, were made almost a decade ago, and despite another four catchy records since then, he remains relatively unknown.

He was always a smooth operator rather than an angry protest singer, but his move to Europe and a life in the sunshine has left him sounding even more laid-back than ever.

Where his music was once rooted in Americana, he now operates in a field of his own, playing a mix of Latin, pop and country.

His latest album, Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations, sees him team up with two local musicians, who performed with him in Sage’s Hall 2 – a perfect setting for the trio.

Despite a shaky, almost sloppy, start, things picked up when he was left to his own devices to play two beautiful solo songs, 1972 and It’s the Nighttime.

By the time his compadres returned, the reserved audience had woken from their slumber to cheer Rouse through the rest of the gig. From the new album the tracks Lazy Days and Oh, Look What The Sun Did stood out, while I Will Live On Islands, from 2010’s El Turista, was brilliant.

Rouse played my favourite song, Michigan, in the encore (with a little persuasion) before finishing with the sing-along Love Vibration.

Settled he may be, but Josh Rouse helped bring a bit of Mediterranean sun to an otherwise drab January night in Gateshead.