by Lara Supan
“Well, that was unexpected.”
Matt Andersen is a larger than life guy, but he sure fits perfectly on a big stage. As he threw back his head to hit the first note, a friend who had come to see the opening band and knew nothing of Andersen’s talent was shocked to hear such a soulful, plaintive sound emanating from this long-haired Canadian. He tore into his first song “Make You Stay” with reckless abandon, and the night was just getting started.
“I Lost My Way” was second on the list that night- one of the most evocative songs off of Andersen’s new album, Weightless. He speaks about being lost, and having “one foot on the pavement, one foot in the grave.” With such heavy subject matter, it was amazing to hear his melismas floating on air through the whole set. At one point in the song he took it down and almost spoke-sang to the audience, giving the blues feel that makes Andersen so authentic.
Through the night, he spoke of singing for prisoners and how his songs would take on new meaning in that context, ex-girlfriends who were better off without him and being called “too edgy” for Fox News in Cleveland. He sang of the darkness fading, what to do with his last day on earth, playing the fool for love and even the coal miner’s struggle in his home town of Perth-Andover in Canada. By the end of the evening the audience felt like they were sitting around a campfire swapping stories with an old friend. When he said good night with “Devil’s Bride”, stopping even his guitar playing to sing a verse a cappella, the audience needed a second to soak in the experience they had just been a part of. We were all lucky to catch Andersen at a quiet, intimate venue like Iota when he is selling out 800 seat theatres in other parts of the US and Canada.
“Hope you had a good night, and if you didn’t, don’t tell anybody. That’s my rule.” I’m pretty sure we’ll all be talking about Andersen tomorrow. Catch him Philadelphia tonight as part of WXPN’s Non-Comm conference at World Cafe Live and tomorrow night at Tin Angel.