I went into the Matthew Good concert with some hesitations, but was pleasantly surprised by one of his best performances in Victoria, BC in years.
Generally by the time Matt Good gets to Victoria he’s been on the road for an entire tour. He is sick, tired, and frustrated. A man who just wants to go home to his family. For the Chaotic Neutral Tour that was a different story this was his first stop, and while the band worked out some kinks it may arguably have been the best show of his tour.
Much to the detriment of Matthew Good he often picks youthful and spry bands to open for him. Bands like Mother Mother, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Dears, or like on this tour Scott Helman. Bands that are just on the cusp of hitting it big and have the potential of overshadowing his performance. Maybe that’s why Scott Helman only had two solitary tungsten houselights to light his entire set while he was surrounded by lighting gear. To keep him in check.
Since seeing the twenty year old, Scott Helman at Rock The Shores this summer I’ve been quite interested to see him again. Scott and his band are quite good musicians. Clearly groomed for the path to success, but still full of that light enthusiasm and vigour that comes in your early twenties. All while staying seemingly well grounded and humble. It’s not something you see often in a twenty something rockstar.
Scott Helman’s set was full of laughs and a dedication to a local fireman named Chris who recently broke his leg saving people from a fire. Chris had won tickets from a local radio station earlier that day while Scott Helman did an in studio interview and performance.
An obvious hit that night was Scott Helman’s “That Sweater.” An early single off his record Augusta, but a topical choice for the sole reason of the chilly nights that come with the season change.
When Matthew Good and his band took the stage at Alix Goolden Hall the tone of the night shifted. Maybe it was the lighting, maybe it was the distant coyotes howling, but all the audience knew was that it was serious rock ‘n’ roll time.
For the better part of two decades Matthew Good has been cranking out successful record after successful record. While I can’t speak to the last two I can tell you that for a majority of my life he was one of my absolute favourite musicians. I’m not sure what changed, but I still frequently listen to a majority of his work. It’s often when I see his new material performed live for the first time when I truly fall in love with those new records.
His set was filled to the brim with new songs from his latest record, Chaotic Neutral. In fact he played every song but “Tiger By The Tail” off the new record. Songs like “No Liars” and “Girls In Black” stand out as solid rock songs. Something we haven’t heard from Matthew Good in a long time. His passion for focusing on concepts and orchestration over the last few years seemed to be put to the side for this album. He also did an interesting interpretation of the Kate Bus song “Cloudbursting.”
“I feel like I’m at a fucking job interview tonight. Why is everyone sitting down?” Matt asked the crowd in Alix Goolden Hall. A desanctified church now turned into a beautiful music venue and music conservatory. A venue notorious for making the audience take a seat during concerts instead of standing and enjoying themselves.
It was clear some folks wanted Matt Good to “shut up and play the singles” as they shouted out requests that he couldn’t quite hear. It wasn’t until 2/3 of the way through the set when the crowd rose to their feet to sing along to “Alert Status Red,” “Load Me Up,” and “Weapon.” While I do feel like there could have been a few more singles mixed in the set it was well rounded that covered an interesting selection of music from his two decade career.
The Alix Goolden Hall was perfect fit for Matthew Good and for years we have been secretly praying he would play in that old church. I think if he ever went on an acoustic tour again he would certainly shine in the intimacy of the venue.
Matthew Good was filled with an energy and showmanship that Victoria hasn’t seen in years. His quips and banter with the audience was still as fun as it always is and he proved he can put on a hell of a show. There were many times when he grabbed his microphone and sang in audience on that early November night. It seemed clear by his performance that he wants to connect and reengage with his estranged audience.
He certainly won me back as a fan and I can’t wait to see him live again.