My husband and I had the pleasure of attending Matt Nathanson’s sold out acoustic show at The Great Hall in Toronto last night. Loyal readers will recall my pain buying his CD’s online last year. It was really funny to see a boombox on stage that was actually being used. I should have brought my “Please” cassette tape!
All the stars were aligned for me to see this concert. The number of tickets was limited, but I had no issues getting a pair during the pre-sale. Also, the show date was scheduled for the weekend, which meant not having to deal with timing issues related to work and child care.
I was worried that traffic and parking would be an issue because of the Taylor Swift concert down the street and Nuit Blanche closing off some major roads, but finding parking once we got downtown turned out to be a breeze and it only cost $5 for the entire evening. We ate at the Bristol & Bombay Pub that shares the same address as the Great Hall, meaning we were literally separated from the venue by a glass door. I watched the tour bus the entire time I was eating and saw Matt Nathanson walk by 4 times. I am certain that he saw me through the glass because I was wearing his “Modern Love” hoodie. It’s pretty hard not to notice when your name is stamped on a stranger’s sleeve. His sound technician was actually in the restaurant with us as well.
My one disappointment of the night came from expecting to buy “Some Mad Hope” from an American superfan (otherwise known as a member of The MattWork) who took pity on me when she read my blog post but she couldn’t find it at home. She ended up selling me one of the discs that I already own but I politely bought a second copy. I had hoped that there would be CD’s for sale at the show but they only had “Show Me Your Fangs”, which I bought with no hesitation even though I received two digital copies of the album for buying the concert tickets. I tried burning the downloaded MP3 files onto CD and it sounded terrible. I am such an audio snob. I also purchased a t-shirt for $35 that I would have bought online last December if it hadn’t been sold out. Not only did I finally get the shirt I wanted, it also came with a wristband for a meet and greet with Matt Nathanson after the show!
The seating was general admission and the first two rows were taken up by people who chose to stand for the entire duration of the show. We were in the third row, which was outstanding, considering we stayed out of the rain and leisurely enjoyed our child-free dinner before lining up. The stage was raised enough so that we could comfortably sit and watch the performance. (Hey, why stand for hours when you’re on #TeamElderly?)
The acoustics in The Great Hall were pure magic and the entire concert was incredible. I thought Massey Hall, Koerner Hall and Markham Theatre were excellent concert venues, but none of them are as small and intimate as The Great Hall. I was nervous because my husband didn’t really know Matt Nathanson’s music, other than hearing my nasty homemade Show Me Your Fangs audio CD during the relatively short car ride to the show. But Matt, accompanied by Aaron Tap (who was also the opening act), completely won us both over. The music and harmonies were amazing, and the banter was hilarious. I would glance over at my husband and I felt happy to see him laughing and enjoying the show as much as me. The people who were standing up front spent a lot of time taking video and photos, but I just sat back and took it all in. I allowed myself to be enveloped in the music instead of having the technology rule me. I didn’t even type up a setlist during the show like I usually do. I can remember that he played the entire Show Me Your Fangs album, all of his popular songs such as “Faster”, “Wedding Dress”, plus the Wheel of Matt songs “Bulletproof Weeks”, “Kill the Lights”, “Modern Love”, “Lucky Boy”, a Simon and Garfunkel cover and finishing the show with “Come On Get Higher”. One of the highlights of the night for us was Matt doing acoustic covers of Rush’s “Limelight”, and a slightly mangled version of The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century”. It always makes me proud when American artists acknowledge Canadian music!
Meeting Matt Nathanson after the show was also a treat. There’s really not much you can say when you’re in a meet and greet situation with a ton of anxious people behind you in the line. But Matt was gracious, hugging everyone and posing for photos. He complimented me on my Modern Love hoodie, which surprisingly, I did not see anyone else wearing. He even introduced himself to my husband, who was not in the line, but standing off to the side waiting for me. After I left the room, I realized I didn’t have a photo at all (Blackberry fail). I went back in, flustered and sweating, but Matt calmly posed for another photo with me and checked to make sure it turned out okay before saying goodbye again. It was such a kind and friendly gesture for a musician who had just spent the past 2 hours entertaining and would probably spend the next hour meeting fans. Once I stopped freaking out, I realized, “Wow, this guy isn’t just talented, he’s a super nice human being.”