Thursday, September 27, 2007

99% of Matt Good is not failure

Matthew Good is a moody bastard.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who is at all familiar with his music or with the man himself. At Tuesday night's appearance at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, he channeled that moodiness in a powerful, if somewhat sombre, performance.

In the last few years, Good's music has been decidedly more introspective and sombre. Starting with the acoustic reworking of many of his hits on 2005's In a Coma, and culminating with the dark and intensely personal recent release, Hospital Music, Matt Good has been increasingly moving away from his rock hits of the past and into the dark recesses of his mind.

Many of the songs on Hospital Music were born during the several months he spent on a psychiatric ward, dealing with bipolar disorder, the breakup of his marriage, and his own subsequent breakdown. They are scathing and dark and highly personal, and they form the basis for Good's current tour.

The night opened with an upbeat set by Dala, a girl and guitar duo from Ontario. They had a wonderful stage patter, lively and funny banter, and lovely harmonies. They ended their set with an a capella rendering of Fever/Hit the Road Jack, while the rest of their set was original offerings. Think Canadian hetero Indigo Girls, and you get the idea.

Matt made a typically low-key but dramatic entrance, performing the opening song stock still on a darkened stage under a low blue light. He launched into a series of songs, mostly from the new albums, without any audience interaction, but then after about the third song, paused, had a casual sip of wine, and started chatting. Matt Good is, of course, famous, for his intelligence, his political savvy, his quick and sardonic humour, and his unwillingness to suffer fools. Amazing songs aside, righteous indignation has always been a high point of his concerts. When he rips into political systems, regimes, high-powered individuals, the audience eats it up.

There was really far too little of that on Tuesday night. There was a nice moment when he chastised some in the audience for the "fucking Alberta rivalry" being displayed, and questioned why people weren't instead pissed off at the provincial government. That was pretty great, vintage Good fare, culminating with "so don't waste your time booing Edmonton", followed by the perfectly comedically timed "unless of course there's a hockey game going on somewhere". And that launched into a gloriously hilarious rant about Vancouver Canuck uniforms, which somehow morphed into the speculation that eventually one Calgary Flames fan, wearing a flammable jersey, would be sacrificed each game (referring to the Flames' tradition of igniting a giant flame in the arena with each goal scored).

And then, it was as though a switch were turned off. The banter ended and the rest of the evening was heavily immersed in the intensity and at times gloominess of an acoustic set. Matt sounded wonderful, his voice as strong as it has ever been, his songs wonderfully wrought, but the bitterness and the intensely personal nature of the material made for a very moving and at times difficult show.

But no one, least of all Matthew Good, ever said it would be easy.
Apparitions.mp3 (underdogs)
Metal Airplanes.mp3 (hospital music)


BeckEye said...

I've never seen this guy. Is he actually that hot? Kind of like a nerdy James Dean. Rowr.

Oh, of course...he's a moody asshole. Just my type!

Allison said...

This sounds like the last time I saw Matt Good in Kingston. I always enjoy going to see him in concert for the music, but I enjoy the banter and engagement with the crowd as well. I have yet to listen to Hospital Music, how would you rate in with his other work?

Deb said...

You nailed it Barb. Wish I could've said it so well.

Al...if you haven't listened to it yet, be prepared - it'll blow your socks off. You'll need at least 3 listens at first, just to really absorb it all. And then, if you're like me, each day you'll find a new "favorite" song from it. It's one of those albums that, from start to finish, keeps wowwing you until the end - nothing drags or gets boring. In my opinion (of course). Sorry Barb, I kind of threw my two cents in, didn't I? (More like my five buck's worth)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

He certainly has his moments of hotness, Beckeye, but I've also seen him when he is strictly 100% nerd.
The asshole bit (he is known for being difficult) came from a now famous t-shirt that he was selling for a while, emblazoned with "I hear Matt Good is a real asshole". Huge seller! I'll find a picture for you.

Deb sums it up excellently, Al. I was actually late in buying Hospital Music, but it really is pretty outstanding. It's a nice combination of the best of his acoustic work and his rock stuff. I think it's a keeper.
I did hope for more rants and banter from him at the concert, because he excels at that, but given what he's gone through this past year, I'm just glad he's still around. God he's a smart dude, though.

Glad you waded in, Deb; I think you summed up the power of Hospital Music perfectly. It's intense, but also very musical, nowhere near as gloomy as I expected it to be.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I'm so jealous, you see all the cool shows. What do I get? Nothing. Nil. Zip. Zilch.

JustRun said...

I must admit, I did not know who this was before clicking over here. That was a very well done review, though.

Beth said...

Great concert review, of course, Barbara. Wonder if he's headed to my neck (ankle?) of the woods?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

But you do know how to say zero a lot of different ways, Dr M, and that's invaluable.
You'll just need to take a road trip up here for some shows, as I see it.

Thanks, Justrun, he's better known in Canada, and even then pretty much only amongst the alternative crowd.

Well, you do seem to lure all our musicians your way with your temptress ways, Beth, but it looks as though this tour is strictly Canadian. So you can't get your wily clutches on this one.

justacoolcat said...

You Canadian Pimper! I'll give him a listen when I get home, just don't hit me . . .

Toccata said...

Your impressions ring similar to the review of his performance here.

One of my students went to The New Pornographers two weeks ago and loved it. I had no idea she too was a Neko Case fan. She was pretty thrilled when I was able to loan her a CD of hers that she did not have.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Canada's got a lot of area codes, Just A; somebody's gotta pimp those hos.

Well done, Toccata! You must have impressed the hell out of her. I'm sure looking forward to seeing the New Pornos again in a couple of weeks. I've never seen them with the full band before.

Ted said...

He said "fuck" 15 times. I was counting.

We had fourth row seats. Best concert of his (out of eight)that we've seen, and the acoustics were awesome.

You saw my photos, Barb? (

You never come 'round anymore :(

Barbara Bruederlin said...

4th row seats? Wow, who'd you have to fuck to get those, Ted? We were back around the 20th row.

I'll head over to check out your photos - you always take such good ones.