A Good night at Maxwell’s with Matthew Good

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I last saw Matthew Good at the Ottawa Bluesfest in 2010. For the Waterloo stop on his I Miss New Wave tour March 6, he completely outdid the previous concert in my eyes. Maybe it was the more intimate location of Maxwell’s Concerts & Events or the better light show, but  this one easily transcended my earlier experience.

The opening performer was singer-songwriter Craig Stickland, who noted to prospective fans that his last name did not in fact have an “R” in it. Although not usually the sort of music I tend to listen to, it was clear to see he did a fine job of keeping the audience’s attention and building to Matthew Good’s set. The sold-out event was filled almost to capacity by Stickland’s last few songs.

After a prerecorded operatic introduction, Good initiated the set with “Giant,” the opener of the Matthew Good Band’s 1999 album Beautiful Midnight and its signature cheerleader chant. Although a quieter piece compared to the more well-known singles from the album, it gave a hearty start to the evening and pointed to the heights that would be achieved. The expectant atmosphere quickly changed when it was followed up with Juno nominated “Hello Time Bomb,” the first single off the same album and a crowd-pleaser that immediately energized the audience.

The rest of Beautiful Midnight ensued as Good played the album in order and in its entirety, including such hit singles as “Load Me Up” and “The Future Is X-Rated.” After disappearing off-stage for a few minutes of rampant applause, the band returned and followed up with an encore consisting of “Advertising On Police Cars,” new song “Decades,” and then the ending one-two punch of classics “Apparitions” and “Weapon.”

As a huge fan of Good’s 2011 album Lights of Endangered Species, I was slightly disappointed in the lack of songs from that record, but it was completely reasonable considering the featuring of an almost decade-old album in its fullness. It was clear the veteran fans in the room appreciated the surplus of older material; yet newer supporters were still entertained with his hits that continue to receive radio play. The mixed audience of university students and local concert-goers were united in their rapt attention when Good pontificated on the merits of bourbon and odd stories behind guitars. At times Good sounded a bit disconnected from the much younger majority of his fanbase, but this was understandable after almost twenty-five years in the industry, many of those at the forefront of Canadian alternative rock.

All in all, it was an enjoyable night for both long-time followers of Matthew Good and people who had only recently come across his music.

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