Leading up to the November 14, 2009 Matthew Good concert at Shaw Conference Center I listened to recordings of Good’s performances in Edmonton from over the years. The improvement in recording quality aside, there was something special about those older shows that encourage me to replay them frequently. It was like a certain chemistry on stage, a feeling or chaos as the band knew a large back catalog and it was very possible to hear “Suburbia” or “Carmelina”; or even that older material from the former Matthew Good Band sounded fresh and interesting.
A few more albums have been released in the last few years and the studio (and live) band have been replaced with new faces. I do not know what the catalyst was, but there seems to be a difference in enjoyment of shows over these last few years. Saturday was my 23rd time seeing Matthew Good perform over the last since 1998; and it was almost to the week that he performed there a decade ago with Moist and Gob.
Saturday night was a good show but I don’t know if it was a great show. Perhaps for the casual Matthew Good fan it gave them everything they wanted to hear, or maybe it converted people to become more interested in his work; and if that happened then the show was a success. I feel I am the minority in the audience when it comes to set lists and what I would like to hear and playing to my tastes could alienate the other several thousand in attendance.
I consider the March 23, 2006 acoustic set at Horowitz Theatre one of the best he’s done, and the October 2005 three night stand at the Starlite Room spectacular. The Pepsi Taste Tour from the summer of 1999 at The Rev was a part of an amazing day and the performance was the first time I had heard material from Beautiful Midnight (the show was prior to the albums release) and that will always be a show held in high regard. Those performances only had a few “never hear that again” moments, and everything else was fairly standard; so what does it take for a Matthew Good performance to stand out amongst them all?
Saturday night had a mix of new material and fan favorites. The new songs from Vancouver sounded great. The crowd responded well to them and they really evolved to something else on stage. Underplayed favorites like “Giant” and “Everything Is Automatic” made for a high energy encore. I think longer songs like “Avalanche” or “Empty’s Theme Park” may be a little too cumbersome to play for a large audience (especially in a bigger venue like the Shaw Conference). Perhaps the attention of those in attendance wanders during an eight minute song, but that is their loss because long Matthew Good songs is a specialty and they sound great live.
By the standard of past shows there was very little banter or political commentary. We were treated to the “pirate and ninja story” as well as some other musings that Matthew had with his band mates. When I look toward the stage I may not see Christian, Pat or Rich, but Matthew is having a good time with their replacements and it shows.
The one thing that hadn’t changed was that the regulars at Good concerts were in full force too. A ‘triple sky kick’ may have been a little more difficult to pull off and we were all kind of sore for standing for a few hours but part of the appeal about going back to any of Good’s shows is the chance to see familiar faces and talk the set over and discuss our favorite moments. We no longer wait outside the venue for hours day after day but it is almost a standing date we have when a tour is announced.
I may never hear “Symbolistic White Walls” or “My Out of Style is Coming Back” again but when Matthew Good comes to town it’s a guaranteed enjoyable night and I hope the next stop is a little sooner than the 17 months I had between the last shows.
A highlight worth mentioning from the night was Mother Mother. I was familiar with their discography going into a show (a rare occurrence with openers for Matthew Good) and their thirty minute set was fast paced, very tight and extremely entertaining. They will only continue to get better and more popular as time goes on and I’m glad to say that “I saw them when” they played a venue that only held a few thousand compared to what they could be playing to in the future.
As to be expected, I recorded the show and here is my favorite song from the new album performed on Saturday night: “Great Whales of the Sea”. As an added bonus is my favorite song from Mother Mother: “Hayloft”.