Friday, June 19, 2009

Blown Right Out Of My Senses

I am the first to admit that I cannot emotionally detach myself from anything that Matthew Sweet does. His music has been a part of so many of the quintessential moments in my life that it has exceeded just being a good listen.

That said, last night in Des Moines Matthew Sweet put on a great show - not excellent mind you, great. Others less emotionally attached may be less kind, but that's not for me to say. His voice was rusty, particularly in the beginning. This was the first show on this mini summer tour and he just couldn't quite hit the right notes in the first song, the challenging and usually excellent Divine Intervention. I won't lie and say it wasn't a disappointment, mostly because the last time I saw him too many years ago Divine Intervention absolutely blew us all away. But only a couple songs in you could tell his voice was warming up nicely and only faced a couple more challenges it couldn't quite meet, most notably with We're the Same.

Also in the debit column, the show was woefully short. He finished his set right around the hour mark. I'm happy to attribute that to the nature of the venue (outdoor family setting next to the river downtown), but I've also read his shows last year were pretty short too. The man has no shortage of great material to play so another half hour would've been great.

Regardless... comes the emotion...

...the show was AWESOME! He played plenty of the "greatest hits" from his biggest albums for those of us who have been fans for nearly two decades, but he also played a nice albeit small selection from Sunshine Lies for those of us who have stuck with him throughout. This places him on the verge of becoming somewhat of a nostalgia act and for many of the fans in attendance last night I have no doubt that's why they were there. When a blistering Room To Rock followed Divine Intervention, you could almost hear the crowd wimper. Their loss.

As a huge fan of Altered Beast, which on most days would be considered my second favorite in his catalog, I was thrilled when he ripped into Ugly Truth five songs in, which is really when everything started clicking. Within the next three songs, he would perform Someone to Pull the Trigger and Time Capsule while sandwiching the new Byrdgirl. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the old and new mixed, reminding me what a successful throwback Sunshine Lies is in many ways.

Then ... wow.

Girlfriend naturally got people on their feet and many of them stayed there until the very end. My friend Tim recorded the video above with just a regular camera so forgive the terrible audio, but at least it gives you a sense that Matthew can still really deliver on the big ones. Awesome.

I've lost count on how many times I've seen Matthew Sweet live and each time there is one song that really transcends everything else. Surprisingly, this time it was You Don't Love Me. It's always been a favorite from the Girlfriend album, but going into the evening I would have never guessed this maudlin tune would be the performance of the night. It kept going and going and kept hitting me deeper and deeper with every note. It was amazing.

Predictably he went with two of his biggest songs to round out the set: I've Been Waiting and Sick of Myself, both well done of course. I hadn't really expected an encore but was thrilled when it became clear that he did. Cinnamon Girl! Superdeformed! Surely he chose both for his biggest fans and for that I'm appreciative. During the encore I couldn't resist bringing my six-year-old son down to the stage for the first moments of his rock 'n' roll hearing loss. He was thrilled to be there so close and I couldn't imagine anywhere else I'd rather be.

Divine Intervention
Room to Rock
We're the Same
Time Machine
The Ugly Truth
Someone to Pull the Trigger
Time Capsule
You Don't Love Me
I've Been Waiting
Sick of Myself
Cinnamon Girl


  • Local opening band North of Grand ... well, let's just move on...
  • Safetysuit was the other opening band. They were new to me and were about as interesting as their name. Not bad, but overall pretty bland. As my wife said with each new song, "they're playing the same song!" When the tween girls went up to the stage for autographs, it became abundantly clear who their target audience is.
  • Matthew Sweet's band was as always fantastic: Ric Menck playing drums, Paul Chastain on bass, and Pete Phillips playing an incredible guitar.


Dan said...

Sounds like you had an awesome time! Color me jealous. ;)

I hope Matthew makes it out to NC again soon (maybe with Susanna Hoffs?)...

No Tony Marsico, eh? I wonder why he isn't along this time.

Dan said...


Anonymous said...

Cool stuff, sir. I'm jealous a little, too bad the shows are too short.

You Don't Love Me has always been kickass, and don't you forget it!

Rock on, too poppy!

Warren in PHX