Show Review: Matthew Sweet at Yoshi’s – SF, 12/27/11

by Dakin Hardwick on December 28, 2011

Comedian Greg Behrendt does a bit about the “grown up rock show.” A show where everyone is over 25, the band only plays hits, and the show is over in time for you to get home and watch Law & Order. No openers, no new material. It seems that the trend that’s been brewing for the last 5 years or so of playing a classic album front to back was inspired by this concept. The Matthew Sweet show at Yoshi’s, featuring Girlfriend in it’s entirety, definitely felt like this. There were few people in the crowd under the age of 30. Everyone showed up on time, a show that started at 8 PM on the nose, and ended shortly after 9:30. And it was beautiful.

The set opened with, as expected, “Divine Intervention,” in all it’s fuzzy, ear candy glory, complete with the sound of plugging in a guitar that begins the album, before chugging into the Pixies-esque guitar bounce that combines nicely with the pitch perfect, smooth harmonies. Sweet’s voice is still a crystal clear and warm as it was in 1991. Since the album was being played beginning to end, we were treated to the two big hits right away, with perfect renditions of “I’ve Been Waiting” and “Girlfriend,” before speaking to the crowd. He apologized for playing the hits so early, and warned us that it was time for the album cuts.

My biggest worry about this show was whether or not his current band will be able to handle the guitar work of the original album. After all, the guitars on the original Girlfriend  album were played by Robert Quine, one of the greatest players of all time, and Richard Lloyd of Television. Happily, the guitar player for this tour was a little known fellow named Dennis Taylor, and he handled the complexities of the record quite nicely. He juggled the country rock of “Looking At The Sun” with the 70’s power pop of “Evangaline” (one of the most underrated songs of the 90’s) and still shredded through the afformentioned “Girlfriend” and even could take on the 12 string somber flamenco fuzz of “Thought I Knew You” without showing a sign of struggle. He was the perfect guitar player for this tour.

The band ripped through the album in a perfect 60 minutes. They even played the so-called hidden tracks at  the end of the album, including the searing “Does She Talk,” which got Sweet doing actual feedback manipulation by rubbing his guitar against his amp in a wonderful display of pure rcokstarness.He told the story of “Holy War,” a song inspired by George Bush Sr’s war in Iraq. (Remember, this album precedes Bill Clinton’s presidency) This song managed to get the previously subdued crowd playing air guitar and knocking their hair around. It was killer.

Of course, he had to play more than the album, and carefully selected his encore tracks to insure maximum joy from the crowd. First was 100% Fun‘s “Sick Of Myself,” which thrilled the crowd even more than anything during the album set. He even managed to wedge in one (and only one) track of his new record, the excellent Modern Art, a song called “She Walks At Night”, which was a catchy, feedback heavy pop song that would have been at home on Girlfriend, or really any of his 90’s albums. And, 90 minutes after he started, he played the “We’re The Same,” and much the way the show started, the band casually said thank you and walked off. A perfect evening of blessed nostalgia.

Setlist

Divine Intervention
I’ve Been Waiting
Girlfriend
Looking At The Sun
Winona
Evangeline
Day For Night
Thought I Knew You
You Don’t Love Me
I Wanted To Tell You
Don’t Go
Your Sweet Voice
Does She Talk?
Holy War
Nothing Lasts

Encore 1:

Sick Of Myself

Encore 2:

Time Capsule

She Walks The Night

We’re The Same

Matthew Sweet & Band will be back Wednesday, December 28th. Don’t miss this!

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