Who: Matthew Good
Where: Hamilton Place Theatre, Hamilton
When: 17 December 2015
In one word: Joyous
Matthew Good’s performance at Hamilton Place on Thursday began with a similar but alternative tone with Scott Helman’s band taking the stage and delivering an energetic, youthful set.
The rowdy enthusiasm made the pre-Good atmosphere bubbly and jumpy, like an outdoor festival kind of rock picnic. One of Helman’s lyrics, sang with a voice like a rubber knife cutting through warm butter – “the light is just around the bend” – set the tone for a night of catharsis.
When the star of the night took to the stage the audience had been waiting in anticipation for what felt like forever.
The lights pointed outwards and Matthew Good, dressed completely in white, slow motion exploded into “Load Me Up”.
If there is such thing as a Canadian version of Southern twang, Matthew Good has it and the crowd was enthralled at every opportunity to burst into applause and cheering to show their appreciation for his impressive artistic ability.
Personally, listening to Matthew Good makes me feel like being on the last few roads on the way back home from camping. It is that feeling of return to home but with a sense of longing for memories that could have lasted longer but you had “roughed it” through.
Yet the music itself doesn’t present any sense of desperation for moments that seemed to drift by in the blink of an eye. Instead it is like a window to look back at something wonderful with appreciation and still have the ability to wish for more and different in the future.
The lighting was soothing and seemed to echo fragments of Matt’s voice in colour but Matt’s charismatic vocal presence does not distract from the rest of the talented musicians who accompany him.
Instead it offers a timbre to the overall atmosphere that amplifies the very woodsy like reverberations that shook the audience into exclamations of “We love you Matt Good!”
About four or five songs into the set the lighting scheme shifted to include more fiery colors as the music simultaneously seemed to evolve into something coming from a passionate heart rather than an angsty mind.
At one point he played a song I didn’t recognize that felt like the sounds of a 50s Maritime dance hall as bursts of white spotlight illuminated some in the audience as they stood up from their cushy seats to dance.
He also knows how to get a party going and enjoyably teased the crowd for not drinking enough.
Clearly Matt is looking to get people out of their element and into a place of filter free excitement.
He even sat down in the front row mid-song next to some of the audience to have a drink, which brought everyone to their feet both to maintain their view of the Canadian superstar and also to share in the excitement of a closer connection.
And once everyone stood up they did not sit back down.
As the energy continued to elevate, he took some personal time to talk shit to the crowd about the way things have become regarding memories.
Immediately after, following theme, the band began to play “Everything is Automatic.”
The colour scheme had changed again, now a bright green. I would continue my metaphors for contextual symmetry but instead I think I’ll let you imagine the aura of colour rising outwards into an applauding audience.
The peak, and my favourite Matthew Good song, was a bright red lighting theme and loud, powerful rock-steady vibe for “Alert Status Red”, an obvious thematic choice.
There are many reasons to go see a Matthew Good show but my personal favorite is the obvious joy that permeates the crowd, contagious it is, and considering Matt’s non-musical interests this joy could also be said to be intellectually stimulating.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t switch off your critical mind and allow for a mentally censor-free experience of Matthew Good. But, with such raw (or, actually, refined) talent you don’t really have to try hard to have a great time. It comes as easily for a Matthew Good fan, or just a fan of good music, to have a blast in his crowd as it does for Matthew Good himself to look good in all white.
And look good he did. Looked Good, Sounded Good, must be Good.
© Shaun Fitl, Music Vice
Photos of Matthew Good at Hamilton Place Theatre:
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