February 11 was the night die-hard Matthew Good fans had been looking forward to since the I Miss New Wave: Beautiful Midnight Revisited tour was announced in late 2016. Good and his band would be playing his seminal 1999 Beautiful Midnight album in its entirety.
Beautiful Midnight is arguably Matthew Good’s most successful album, earning him a Juno in 2000, debuting at #1 on Canadian Album Charts, and seeing the vinyl re-issue of the album in early 2016 put it back at the top of the charts.
The night started with Toronto native Craig Stickland, a solo artist with a voice powerful enough to make any boy bands weep. Craig was a one-man band, live looping riffs, vocal tracks, and a powerful drum beat by banging on the sound board of his guitar.
Throughout his set, Stickland was ever grateful to Matthew Good for having him along for this monumental 28-stop tour, at one point commenting that the album Beautiful Midnight was one of the most influential Canadian albums to date, comparing it to the works of the Tragically Hip.
It was Matthew Good’s second time performing at Alix Goolden Hall. Well, third if you count his book reading and signing in 2001. Over the years, it seems like Matt has played pretty much every venue in Victoria. From the dingy Legends to the grandness of the Royal Theatre. It was nice to see him relax into the more intimate and aesthetically pleasing Alix Goolden Hall, although he seemed to have some hesitations with the venue: constantly mentioning the sitting audience and deafening quietness between songs.
Happy and sweaty after performing mega-hits Hello Time Bomb and Strange Days, Good turned to his band and quipped, “Well boys, this is the furthest we’ve made it into this set without having a smoke break.”
It wouldn’t be the last time we saw Matt laugh and joke around with his band. Often falling back on an in-joke about the bass player yelling “you’re out of your element, Donny” — a reference to the movie The Big Lebowski — this was a much lighter and happier Matthew Good than audiences have seen in previous years. It’s something most fans credited to being the first night of the lengthy tour before he is worn down and sick.
The crowd seemed subdued at first as Good tried to get the audience to stand up, joking about how he is “bordering on 50.” By the time the first chords of track five, Load Me Up, had started, Good and his band finally convinced the crowd at Alix Goolden to stand and let go. Once everyone was on their feet, no one sat back down again. Heck, there were even two girls who had choreographed dance moves in the the balcony.
It seemed as if the entire 800+ person venue knew every word to every single track from the timeless Beautiful Midnight. There was a sense that the room was filled with kindred spirits. This was the soundtrack to a lot of our teenage years and now that we were all adults (in some form or another), we felt complete seeing all of these songs performed live.
With the recent release of I Miss New Wave: Beautiful Midnight Revisited, it was an almost certainty that we were not going to see some songs performed in their original fashion. Instead, we were treated to some George Lucas-style revisionism. Matt’s voice isn’t what it used to be, and it makes sense the songs were repurposed to better suit his vocals now. Suburbia, a favourite among die-hard fans, has now become a jarring jumble of a song with a New Order-esque bass line.
The “revisited” songs from the Beautiful Midnight seemed to change the flow of how fans expected the concert to go. It wasn’t better or worse, just different than how we imagined it would be. That’s the funny thing about expectations and having an album burned into your brain over the last two decades.
While the beginning of the show was plagued with the expected growing pains of opening night on a cross-country tour, once the band got deeper into the album, the technical issues seemed to smooth out. Most of the sound issues fell upon seasoned guitarist Stuart Cameron who has been touring with Matt on and off for the better part of the last decade, but were speedily addressed by the guitar tech.
As an encore, the band played a smattering of hits from other Matthew Good records, as well a recorded-as-of-three-weeks-ago song called Decades. A quick search of YouTube and you can already see a live video recorded at the show. It has some promise with an interesting opening riff, but quickly drops off after that.
Before we knew, it Matthew Good had signalled that it was the end of the concert by putting on his glasses at during Weapon, the telltale sign all his fans have come to recognize after all these years of seeing him play live.