October 10, 2013
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Nolan Smith
Photos by Brian Ullrich
Nathanson And Radin Last Of The Great Storytellers
This fall Matt Nathanson and Joshua Radin are on tour named after the title of Nathanson's new album "Last of the Great Pretenders". Hosted by the House of Blues in Dallas few tickets remained at the box office and by the end of the night I heard that show sold out. Be aware of this, and buy your tickets now, online you can already see many of the events are already sold out (Playing to 38 shows in roughly 55 days from Oct 3 to Nov 23). Both artists are known for their intimate songwriting and crowd interactions while on stage. Tonight both artists lived up to their acclaim and put on a terrific show for those lucky enough to attend.
Radin opened the show at 7:30 on a school night, to a nearly crowded house proving as I suspected that there would be nearly equal amounts of Joshua and Matt fans attending. Their styles so similar and complimentary it was a ticket pairing that I assumed would have a strong turn-out for both artists. Radin told stories of how he wrote his own personal favorite song "You Got Growing Up To Do" in 15 minutes in the rain while hiding out in an ATM vestibule. He said it was a story to him about being a "victim of timing... when you are with the right person bet at the wrong time". Another charming tale was about how he was born with a hole in one ear, and was advised by doctors that he cannot put his whole head underwater. Through time (20+ years) he saw a physician who advised them both that the hole had healed somehow and he was given the green light to put his head "Underwater" (title track from his last album), a metaphor to how he for the first time experienced that stillness and quiet and how it was a new world to him a place to escape the noise and chaos of the everyday world. The three piece band put on a lively show, sounded very tight and looked like they were having as much fun as the audience. Radin made several friends with people in the crowd and had several interactive bits which I think the majority of people enjoyed greatly. A brief 45 minute set was clearly what was his schedule as he made his exit, while adoring fans prayed for an encore. It was not to be.
Matt Nathanson took the stage in full beard and his now wildly overgrown mane of hair that has slowly overtaken his face. I say this as when I first saw him at a small venue in Dallas 8 years ago, he was a clean cut short haired very Abercrombie looking gent. His full band was there to entertain and he came with a swagger and confidence that I had not seen in the previous few times of attending his shows. He told a story for every song, and also turned up the house lights to talk with several audience members creating laughs and unique memories for those in attendance.
Three of his more interesting stories was about his song "Sky High Honey" which he equated to being "...like when you open up the window to your past, and it steals your wallet." The next would have to be "Bulletproof Wings" which he said is about "...a relationship that can't quite make it back to reality. It's sounds great, but on in fantasy". Finally the "Girl in the Kinks Shirt" was a hysterical story about a girl he had a crush on, and how through an interview he let a minute' detail get out about her (where she waited tables), and next thing he knew a fan was posting to his facebook a picture with them and the girl from the song captioned "Found Her". He was so embarrassed and the girl now knows the song is about her. Maybe you had to be there, but it was very funny and well told.
Matt switched things up by playing a cover of the Killers and a David Bowie song in the night keeping things moving along. By the time the end of his set came it was very clear there would be an encore. No one moved. He and the band happily came back on stage to play a few more songs. Playing nearly 2 hours I think everyone left there feeling they got their money's worth and then some!
Bottom line if you don't enjoy shows where the artist talks and tries to connect to the audience, or shares personal stories about them and their life. Then definitely do not go see this show. However, in my opinion this is exactly why I love going to live events. When you feel more part of the persons music than when you arrived is a tremendous feeling. I would encourage you all to overturn those couch cushions and empty your piggy bank to find enough coin to attend this tour while you have a chance. Not only are both artists extremely talented and worthy of praise, but their ability to turn a phrase and tell a story are without equal (James Taylor comes close). Also, if you can manage it... bring a date. Thank me later.
Joshua Song List
Best when we're together
You got growing up to do
My My Love
Matt Nathanson Song List
Kill the Lights
Run (written with Sugarland)
Sky High Honey
End of the World
the Killers Cover Song
Girl in Kinks Shirt
David Bowie Cover "Under Pressure"