I was lucky enough to catch Matt Mays during NXNE -- his set being a highlight of the festival -- but it's been a while since the shaggy Dartmouth rocker has visited Vancouver. But fresh off the release of his first album in four years, Mays embarked on a cross country tour that finally brought him back to the west coast.
Opening the night was PEI's The Meds. Their self-titled debut EP was produced by Matt Mays, and his influence was pretty evident on their east coast rock sound. The band had a rocking sound and a good energy on stage, getting the slowly building crowd to clap along, and lead singer Kyle Drake came right up to the edge of the stage a few times. One song that stood out was the catchy "Dial Tones of the Earth", but while they were a solid band, there wasn't much to set them apart.
Up next was a late addition to the show, Vancouver's own The Matinée. The five piece roots rock band started, as they usually do, with "L'Absinthe" and it wasn't long before they got the crowd stomping along to "Sweet Water". Another highlight was their brand new single, the anthemic "Young & Lazy" and they managed to top the energy from the rest of the set as they ended with "The Road", with its giant percussion breakdown.
I been able to see them a ridiculous amount of times in the last year, but I never get tired of seeing them play live. All five members always have a great energy on stage, especially Layzell, who is a great frontman; not only does he have a fantastic stage presence, and charisma to spare, but he knows when to fade into the background and let the focus shift to someone else -- usually Matt Rose shredding on the guitar -- which is sometimes a rare skill for lead singers.
And finally, it was back to the east coast for Nova Scotia's Matt Mays. The band took the stage and exploded with the first track off of the new album Coyote, "Indio", going into a few more from the album. As always, Mays had an amazing energy. Hardly standing still for a moment through the whole set, he did a great job at getting the crowd into it right off the bat. A couple other highlights from the new album were the twangy "Loveless" and the more rockin' "Ain't That The Truth".
Part way through the set, the band took a brief break as Matt pulled out the Grestch White Falcon for a few solo songs, including "Queen of Portland Street" and "Travellin'" where the band to slowly join him and build to a huge ending with a giant sing along. He ramped the energy right back up with raucous "Rock Ranger Records", the funky "Madre Padre", and a pair of old songs that once again got everyone singing, "City of Lakes" and one of my favourites, "On The Hood" to end the set.
But of course, they were back for a couple more. Matt came out alone first, getting behind the keys for the soft and beautiful "Your Heart" before the band to rejoin him for one of my absolute favourite songs, the incredibly powerful "Terminal Romance", with Mays dripping raw emotion and heartache as he spat out the words. And as if that wasn't enough, they wrapped up nearly two hours after the start of the set with "Cocaine Cowgirl", and one last big sing along.
Mays always puts on a fantastic show, so full of raw energy, and tonight was no different. Hopefully it won't be another couple years before he makes his way back.
Indio, Stoned, Take It On Faith, Loveless, Tall Trees, Dull Knife, Rochambo, Never Saw it Comin', Spoonful of Sugar, Queen of Portland Street, Chase the Light, Travellin', Ain't That The Truth, Rock Ranger Records, Madre Padre, City of Lakes, On The Hood.
(encore) Your Heart, Terminal Romance, Cocaine Cowgirl.