MATTHEW GOOD + Melissa McClelland @ Café Campus

By Jordan-na Belle-Isle - Canadian Invasion - 04/10/2006

In my experience, mentioning the name Matthew Good usually produces one of two reactions: surprise or disdain. After the popularity of the Matthew Good Band, cresting with their final full-length Beautiful Midnight, the namesake lead singer seemed to be destined to drop off into solo career oblivion. Good has been plagued by a less-than-stellar reputation of being moody and difficult to work with. I pondered this on the way to Café Campus, wondering if people would be willing to dish out the twenty-plus bucks to see Matt Good in his solo effort on a Monday night.

In total disregard for normal Montreal standards, the show actually started on time. I arrived at an already packed house, only twenty minutes past the listed time. It was just enough to catch opening act Melissa McClelland’s last song. McClelland’s sweet jazzy voice was well-received by the crowd at Café Campus, who must have also appreciated the punctuality.

After the end of McClelland’s set, the audience milled about. Someone started humming “Strange Days” (a popular Matthew Good Band single) as others wondered if a solo Matthew would revisit his Good Band days. An announcement on the PA kindly noted that there was to be no smoking near the stage. “I heard he’s a real dick,” remarked one concertgoer. As the lights dimmed, the audience seemed to wonder which version of Good they’d be treated to that night.

Matthew Good opened with an acoustic number that immediately sparked a sing-along. He stood alone on a beautiful stage that featured a lowered, rotating disco ball casting gentle rays of light onto the venue. Good played three of his solo songs off the top, easily segueing one into the next with his strong, deep voice filling the room and capturing his fans from the first chords. His earnest college-coffee-shop presence enveloped the large venue into something strangely intimate and oddly calm. The crowd watched with a quiet regard and respect for Good’s music.

From the crisp sound system to the guitar tech to the sophisticated lighting system, Matt Good knew his music deserved first-class treatment and in turn produced a first-class show for his loyal following. Good has a great stage presence and carries himself with finesse and class. His cynical stage banter was witty and inviting, both entertaining and intelligent at once. He was the cool high school math teacher, young enough to relate to his audience but old enough to carry wisdom in his words.

In all, Matthew Good’s solo show proved to be a well put-together and welcoming affair. He was in fine form, easily moving from one song to the next, engaging his fans with his honesty. His clean, commanding voice carried the show and made each song beautiful in its starkness and simplicity. I came out with a new respect for Good and appreciation for his songwriting talent, finally understanding why he chose to go solo.

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