Matthew Good @ Orpheum -- 11/28/13

I've said it before (more than once) but one of my favourite artists, for many years now, is Matthew Good. And I have been able to see him live at least once a year for the last six years or so; from huge, outdoor events to intimate acoustic shows.
Promoting his newest release, Arrows of Desire -- which is raw, rocking album recorded live-off-the-floor -- Matthew Good finished off the tour with a hometown show, at the beautiful Orpheum Theatre.

Opening the show was Gentleman Husbands. it was the first time in Vancouver for the Ontario four piece, and their rootsy-rock type stuff that wasn't quite good enough to like, but neither bad enough to be snarky about.
They had some catchy songs, but a lot of them ended up bleeding together and sounding alike, even the partial cover of The Wallflowers' "Difference" that the slipped into a song. For an opening band, it was Perfectly Acceptable Music and they had an obvious passion for what they were doing.

Soon after, at 9:30 sharp, Matthew Good took the stage. His band coming out first and launching into the opening notes of "Garden of Knives" from the new album before Good came on and stepped up to the mic. The nearly two-hour set focused on the new album, but reached back through his long career, hitting songs from his solo and Matthew Good Band days.

Older hits like "Everything is Automatic" and "Load Me Up" got the entire theatre on their feet and singing & clapping along, as Good poured all his energy into the set. His voice going from rough & gritty, to soft, to soaring -- sometimes within the same song -- and was always full of passion and emotion.

Good eschewed his usual dry and humourous banter, due to the show being curfewed and wanting to play as much music as possible, but did joke around a few times between songs, including spontaneously launching in to a cover of "Walk Hard" from the John C. Reilly movie of the same name.

Other highlights included the beautiful "While We Were Hunting Rabbits" from Avalanche, which was transformed from a symphonic, strings-filled number to an almost alt-country number that soared; the vicious & frantic "Via Dolorosa" finished with a huge swirling of guitars & pounding of drums; and "Shallow's Low", which starting dark and moody before exploding into a chaotic climax.

It's also worth noting the lighting, which is rarely gets its own spotlight; little touches really added to the experience, like when various members had solos, they were illuminated as the rest of the stage dark; and in one of the neatest stage lighting things I've seen in a while, the lights rapidly illuminated each individual drum as it was struck during one of the drummer's solos.

The main set wrapped up with the haunting "Letters in Wartime" the final track on the new album, before the obligatory encore. The band returning to stage with the familiar cheer piping through the theatre, and launching into "Giant", followed by another pair of huge singalongs, "Hello, Time Bomb" and "Apparitions".
They finally ended the night, and the tour, with the epic "Champions of Nothing", as Good thanked his band, his crew, and especially everyone for showing up.

Garden of Knives, Last Parade, Load Me Up, Arrows of Desire, Non Populus, Born Losers, So Close, Everything is Automatic, Shallow's Low, While We Were Hunting Rabbits, Walk Hard [Dewey Cox cover], Had It Coming, We're Long Gone, Weapon, Alert Status Red, Via Dolorosa, Letters in Wartime.
(encore) Giant, Hello Time Bomb, Apparitions, Champions of Nothing.