Opening the show was Daniel Wesley who I "unfortunately" missed -- I've never really been a fan, and have seen him before live so I wasn't too broken up about arriving after he played.
As it was time for Matthew Good to take the stage, the lights dimmed with only two floor lamps on either side for illumination, and Matt Good in near complete darkness, with Anthony Wright on keys for a stripped down, acoustic version of the normally orchestral "While We Were Hunting White Rabbits". Earlier in the week Good had mentioned on his social medias that he was coming down with bronchitis, but not only would he not be cancelling the remaining shows, he would be going all out, as he usually does on the last shows on the tour. And did he ever. Were it not for a horse speaking voice (and some coughing) I never would have been able to tell, as his voice soared over the beautiful piano for the opening song. If concerts are all about creating "moments", this was definitely the first of several.
The rest of the band came out, launching into "The Boy Who Could Explode", for a set that mainly focused on the new album and Good's solo career. There were the usual older ones, though; "Apparitions" and "Hello, Time Bomb" got huge recognition pops, Good stepped off the mic for the crowd to sing part of "Load Me Up" and the sheer emotion of "Weapon" gave chills. Other "moments" throughout the set included the goosebumps-inducing epic instrumental ending of "Shallow's Low", building in intensity as each band member came in, and "Zero Orchestra" an energy-filled and punchy new song that is one of the best of Good's catalogue.
There wasn't much of the usual banter, likely due to the bronchitis, which is a shame, since despite the heavy material in his songs, Good is always funny and a great story teller on stage. He also melted into the background several times, to let his band -- which included old MGB member Ian Browne on drums -- have the spotlight. Especially guitarist James Reid, who at one point tossed his hat off stage for a killer solo, only for it to be tossed back on stage and land almost perfectly on his head.
The set ended with the title track and final song off of Lights of Endangered Species, but everyone knew it wasn't done, and and during the encore break the crowd spontaneously broke in to the opening chant to "Giant", only for the familiar "K-I-C-K-A-S-S, that's the way we spell success!" and accompanying clapping to blast out of the speakers moments later as the band came back out and launched into the song. After epic "Champions of Nothing" and unreleased b-side "Hornets", the two hour set came to an end perfectly with "Set Me On Fire".
As mentioned above, I have seen Good over a half dozen times, in venues ranging from a couple hundred to a couple thousand people, and while I am not sure if this was my favourite Matthew Good show, it definitely ranks up there, and definitely will make an appearance on any inevitable best-of-2011-concerts list. It was an amazing show, and reminded me why he was one of my favourites.
As if I needed a reminder.
While We Were Hunting Rabbits; The Boy Who Could Explode; What If I Can't See The Stars, Mildred?; Zero Orchestra; Born Losers; It's Been A While Since I Was Your Man; Shallow's Low; Load Me Up; Hello, Time Bomb; The Future Is X-Rated; Non Populous; Apparitions; Weapon; Lights of Endangered Species.
(encore) Giant; Champions of Nothing; Hornets; How It Goes; Set Me On Fire.