Matthew Good | Live at Massey Hall (Universal)

cd_matt-good.jpgLive at Massey Hall is an addictive and well-performed sampling of Good’s career.




Matthew Good is, without a doubt, one of the most brilliant and talented singer-songwriters of our generation. He writes thoughtful, intelligent and enticing songs, stylistically ranging from full-on rock to sparse arrangements to intricate pop symphonies. Over the span of his output—four albums and one EP as the Matthew Good Band, plus five under his own name, including a two-disc retrospective and now this two-disc live album—he’s not delivered a single clunker.

This release is no exception…save for one big, glaring thing: his stage banter is terrible. For such an intelligent, thoughtful and normally well-spoken guy, he sounds absolutely idiotic. You’d think that, knowing he was recording a live album, he would have planned his comments better. "Hold on; I have to imbibe," he says at one point, following a discussion of how drunk you can be onstage when solo but that, when playing with a band (as he does here), you have to be a bit more coherent. Seriously, Matt, this is the best you could come up with?

Moving past his idle chatter (which is quite easy; it’s tacked on to the end of songs, so it takes a mere skip to the next track to stick with just the music), Live at Massey Hall is an addictive and well-performed sampling of Good’s career. There is a handful of songs from some of the MGB releases, including three from Beautiful Midnight, the only of Good’s albums to be released in the United States.

Half of Massey‘s 21 songs are from newest disc Hospital Music, which is perfectly fine; the disc’s the nearest to perfection of all of Good’s releases. More importantly, though, the concert flows well, from album to album, from band to solo, further proof of the quality of Good’s work. As always, his voice ranges from whispery vibrato to out-and-out rock ‘n’ roll; such versatility and command on display.

Because of the quality of the music, it’s hard to choose highlights, but here are a few. "Giant" maintains the album’s prerecorded intro, a cheerleading troupe intoning, "K-I-C-K-A-S-S, that’s the way we spell success." Here, though, it continues to repeat through much of the intro, gradually being drowned out by the surge of guitars. The ever-beautiful "Weapon" and "Avalanche" are just as impressive live as in studio, as is "99% of Us Is Failure." Also, Good’s choice to end the concert with the lovely and stripped-down cover of Daniel Johnston’s "True Love Will Find You in the End" (as he does on Hospital Music) provides the closure of a bedtime story before retiring.

Honestly, I’d advise you to pick up any and all of Matthew Good’s releases, but if you’re a newbie, then Live at Massey Hall is a good place to start. You can’t help but be impressed. A (would be an A+ if not for the banter) | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Richard Ashcroft, Eddie Vedder, The Velvet Teen’s Elysium

Live at Massey Hall is available as an import in the U.S.; with the exchange rate, it’s less than $12, an absolute steal. You may also want to check out Matthew Good’s very political, often instrospective blog.

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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