Thursday, October 24, 2013

Matt Nathanson @ Headliners Music Hall 10/23/2013

Artist: Matt Nathanson
Venue: Headliners Music Hall, Louisville, KY
Date: 10/23/2013

This pic is not from last night, or even from Headliners.  In fact, it's 2 years old, but it's the only one I have handy.

Set list (I remembered them all, and actually had them remarkably in order, but I have to credit @seriousbeagle's picture of the set list for the 100% accuracy):
  1. Mission Bells
  2. Modern Love
  3. Run
  4. Heart Starts
  5. Car Crash
  6. Kill the Lights
  7. Sunday New York Times
  8. Room @ the End of the World
  9. Wedding Dress
  10. Bulletproof Weeks
  11. Suspended
  12. Annie's Always Waiting (For the Next One to Leave)
  13. Kinks Shirt
  14. Under Pressure
  15. Farewell, December
  16. Birthday Girl
  17. Faster
  18. Come On Get Higher
So, we started our fall concert lineup last night at Headliners Music Hall in Louisville with the illustrious Matt Nathanson and man, what a way to start.  Everybody else we see this next couple weeks is going to have to bring their A-game to live up to the show Matt, Aaron and Co, put on last night.  But, I digress, let me start at the beginning.

Joshua Radin opened for them and his set turned out to be a perfect storm...a perfect shit storm.  If you've been to many shows, I'm sure you've seen this sort of thing go down before.  Let me lay it out for you.  It goes like this: an opener comes out that not many people in the audience seem to be familiar with, and it's the kind of audience that's not in the mood to humor an opener that they're not especially interested in.  By that I mean that the ice clinkers are in full force, clinking their ice, having their conversations, paying no mind to the guy on stage trying to do his job.  Add to that, the guy on stage, while a decent performer and all, isn't one of those larger-than-life showmen (like our headliner last night, for instance) who takes over a room and captivates an audience, so he's kind of lost in their (I assume) mostly liquor-fueled conversations.  So the whole thing just kind of went to hell in a hand basket.  I can see both sides of this issue.  From his side, it's totally disrespectful and rude for the audience to carry on talking and not paying attention when he's up there trying to share his heart and soul with them.  On the other hand, they paid their money and if they want to stand around and drink and gab, I suppose that's their prerogative.  Although, personally I didn't appreciate it because I didn't pay to listen to people talk quite that loud through the show, but that's just me.  And I have seen a couple openers that have actually sucked quite a lot and have gotten drowned out by the audience a lot worse than he did and they kept their cool and went on with their set as if everything was fine whereas Mr. Radin kind of lost his cool and showed his ass last night.  But, I guess he was just wasn't in the mood to take any shit and we all have days like that.  Anywho, moving on.

After all that drama, Matt Nathanson, Aaron Tap, Shiben Bhattacharya, and their drummer I didn't get his name (I hope somebody comments with it so I can add it) (Edit: Chris Lovejoy is the drummer - thank you to the commenters who know more than I do, and my apologies to Chris for not knowing his name), finally took the stage.  And just to be superficial for a second, Matt's hair is all grown out and totally epic, I was quite glad he hadn't had it cut.  Anyway, they opened with Mission Bells which, just for me personally, isn't the opener that Mercy is (but you gotta remember that Mercy is the first song I ever saw him play live so I have a soft spot for that one), but you can't open every show with the same song and I thought it went over really well live and it got the night off to a great start.  After that was Modern Love which is always a fun, energetic song that gets the crowd into the show.  We got a little back story before Heart Starts, which is one of my favorites from Last of the Great Pretenders, and I love Matt's stories, so I was glad that he was more talkative this time than the last time he played Louisville.  In fact, he got more and more chatty as the night went on which was nice to see because I take it as a sign that he's relaxed and having a good time himself.  As he got into Heart Starts, we found that his breathy high notes didn't make it to the show with him, (they must have been chillin' in the bus listening to some of that vinyl he's been amassing while on tour), but it was cool, I felt like the audience was understanding and we tried to do our best to fill in for him (I mean, our best sucks compared to his best, but we did what we could).  I mean, good lord, the man sings pretty much every night, these things are bound to happen to from time to time.

After that he dipped back in the catalogue and broke out Car Crash and here is where his live show completely disassembles you if you let it.  In fact, last night was filled with the songs that get in and break down the little pieces.  The kind of songs that I can just close my eyes and ride along on the swell of the music.  They wipe out all the bullshit and there's nothing there but the music and the image of fingers on guitars and the feel the drum in my chest.  I can literally let go and know that I'll be alright, if you will.  There was Car Crash, Wedding Dress, Suspended, Room @ the End of the World, Sunday New York Times, Farewell, December...just live music perfection.  I get into the fast stuff too, don't get me wrong, but I really dig these slower, floaty tunes.  I can't help it.  The most stripped down moment of the night came when he played Bulletproof Weeks for us.  Apparently Matt didn't used to play this song because of the ouch factor, but he's decided to start adding it to set lists and I think it's a great addition.  It's a quiet, powerful man-and-his-guitar moment.  I noticed that the chatty ice clinkers got cranked up a bit again while he was playing this one which irked me, and I hope he doesn't think the gravity of the song was lost on everyone.

Nor was the show all a quiet, acoustic, singer-songwriter affair.  A lot of the songs on the new record are very rock and roll, Kill the Lights for example.  It's a sexy little tune on vinyl and he revels in the sexiness of it when he plays it live.  It was an absolute celebration of carnality and it was wonderful.  Annie's Always Waiting (For the Next One to Leave) is my favorite song on Last of the Great Pretenders and I was tickled pink that he played it last night.   It's so fun to see Matt really getting into the rock star vibe.  Playing the shit out of his guitar, jumping around up there, owning that stage.  I know that he had a shoulder injury from going ass over tin cups off his bike a few days ago and that sort of thing doesn't heal quickly (he even had a visible injury on his elbow), but there was no sign of it in his performance.  He was as energetic and into his playing as I've seen him.  It was a joy to watch. Me being me, I have to admit though, my favorite moment of the night was when they played the Queen/David Bowie classic Under Pressure.  Only because it was during this song that Aaron Tap broke out his beautiful, soaring tenor and it absolutely made my night.  I mean, I've heard it happen on my iPod and my ear buds and my car speakers, but I've never actually heard him go full throttle live before.  I'm telling you, it really was something else.  Wow.

So there you have it, the first concert of the fall was a rousing success.  They're playing the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville, TN tonight which was the first place we saw Matt headline and I wish we were going.  Sadly, it's not happening.  Next up for us is Carbon Leaf at The High Watt in Nashville next Tuesday, then Dr. Dog back here in Louisville next Saturday.


  1. Matt's drummer is Chris Lovejoy (unless things have changed in the last few weeks).


    1. Thank you!! I googled him and it's still the same guy, I added his name to the post.

  2. I love reading MN reviews!

    The drummer's name is Chris Lovejoy.

  3. This made me SO excited for my upcoming shows. You and I should definitely see a show together sometime (I'm @ktotheat on Twitter, btw) - I think we react very similarly. Last time I saw him he played Wedding Dress and I just dissolved into tears by the end.

    Thanks for the review; it was wonderful to read!

    1. That would be awesome! Maybe there will be a show halfway between us sometime!!

      Thank you for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

  4. Nah, Joshua Radin is overall kind of a dick. He's definitely more suited for seated venues and is very good but also very different from Matt, performing-wise.