“I’m living on the air in Cincinnati/Cincinnati, WKRP.” 

So sung Kentucky native Joan Osborne, who decided to surprise the fans, friends and extended family who attended her show at Memorial Hall in Ohio’s Queen City with the theme song from television’s WKRP in Cincinnati.

“We learnt that one special just fer you,” Osborne said in an exaggerated holler accent between standing ovations that preceded and followed the encore. 

The appreciative crowd inside Memorial Hall OTR let loose a mix of laughter and applause as Osborne, keyboardist Will Bryant and guitarist Jack Petruzzelli went on to wrap the 75-minute gig with “Take it Any Way I Can Get It,” an Allman Brothers-inspired blower from 2020’s Trouble and Strife

Eschewing material from such side projects as the Dead, Phil Lesh & Friends and Trigger Hippy, Osborne instead rolled out 13 career-spanning songs that bridged the nearly three decades between 1995 and Relish’s “Pensacola,” “St. Teresa” and “One of Us”—“the pope when she’s in Rome” was the one caller on this updated arrangement—and 2023’s “Woman’s Work,” “I Should’ve Danced More” and the title track from Nobody Owns You, which Osborne called “my most-personal album” to date. 

Flanked by Bryant, who alternated between keys and grand piano, and Jack Petruzzelli on acoustic and electric guitars, Osborne was unflappable and commanding as she danced around the stage, stood head-to-head with Petruzzelli in classic guitar-goddess style and reinforced the musical importance of tambourine and shakers. 

With a laptop piping in percussion when Osborne wasn’t shaking a tambourine—as on a gritty version of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited”—or adding brushed snare drum to the slinky suggestiveness of Muddy Waters’ “I Want to be Loved,” this small trio made big sounds. Osborne’s acoustic guitar work was a big part of this as well.

Then there’s Osborne’s biggest asset—her voice. The one famous for the passionate, wordless fills that colored several songs to the vocal fervor displayed on Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”— “live-only bonus track” that does not appear on 2017’s Songs of Bob Dylan. For whatever else she brings to the stage on a given tour, Osborne the singer remains the centerpiece of everything Osborne the artist has to offer.