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Matthew Sweet
A Concert Review

November 8, 1999

Schuba's Tavern

Chicago, IL

A Review by
The Dude on the Right
One of the first things Matthew Sweet said to the audience at Schuba's was "Welcome to my house" and it was kind of appropriate because the concert room at Schuba's can almost be likened to a large basement. It's not very big, kinda cozy, with a bar in the corner. It was a treat for Matthew Sweet fans because he usually does larger venues, and being the first time I've seen Matthew Sweet, well, I've got a few things say.

Coming on stage, Matthew looked like he just woke up. His hair was tousled and he looked kinda tired, maybe a by-product of the morning shows he hit earlier, or maybe that's just his everyday look. Starting with new material off his latest CD, "In Reverse," there were two major things I observed about Matthew Sweet during his set and here they are: One - during songs that it was obvious the crowd knew well, songs like "Girlfriend" and "Sick of Myself," Matthew was on fire. He would smile, look at the crowd, and blast out the song with excitement. Two - during songs that it was obvious most of the crowd didn't know well, Matthew seemed tentative. Don't get me wrong, his voice was still great and guitar playing right on, but the underlying energy wasn't the same. He would rarely make eye contact, usually having his eyes closed or looking down, and the songs, at least for me, didn't have the energy and fire I think they could have had. Just my two main observations. Oh, wait, sorry, one more - I thought there was too much bass, at least for my location in the room.

Music-wise I'm liking Matthew Sweet more and more even if I don't know some of the songs he plays. Guitar driven with a good mix of keyboards, he mixes just enough rock sound with some softness, and on those songs where he had the emotion machine rolling he ranked right up there in terms as a performer, although I was almost flabbergasted (that's not a word you read everyday is it?) when he started announcing the band members 50 minutes into the show and I was figuring he'd be done in under an hour (a big no-no in my opinion, especially from a headliner, much less a singer who had no opening act like this night), then wrapped up the set with "Sick of Myself" with an almost never-ending ending. Little did I know he liked to encore, and encore he did. Two of them, three songs each, and magically, through great versions of "We're the Same", "Faith in You," and the crowd requested "Evangeline" among others, Matthew Sweet's 55 minute show turned into nearly two hours.

Other than thinking that Matthew needs to be a little more energetic on the songs the crowd didn't know, I thought the show was alright. Maybe it was just a little off night for him. I was kinda bummed, though, because with the high level of bass most of the guitar soloing was getting washed out, but maybe it was because it was the bass dudes birthday, so along with the shots given on stage, well, maybe they kicked the bass up a notch. Either that or I needed to find a better spot to listen in the room. Oh well.

I was teetering with a one thumb-upper for this review because I thought Matthew Sweet could have worked the crowd more, but I revert back to the crowd reaction at the end of his set and first encore - they wouldn't let him leave, and he gladly obliged by coming back. So, it's TWO "I DIDN'T THINK 'SICK OF MYSELF' WAS EVER GOING TO END" THUMBS UP!

That's it for this one! I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

 

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