Ok, so I have this friend who writes music reviews for a newspaper in Toronto and I really don't know how he's able to start off a review with anything but, "The band totally rocked." Seriously. Unless the band totally did not rock.
I have to say, Matt is a truly genuine guy. He's totally down to earth and seems to be completely astounded by how far his music has taken him. I was hanging out backstage with Andrew and Dave (whose musical genius I will need to detail later) when Matt arrived. He walked in and saw that most of the choir people were there and quickly arranged to go over some parts with them. Then he saw me and made a point of saying hi and acted as if it were completely normal that I was hanging out with his band and the choir.
The SNS people had set up a "choir" area in a curtained part of the theatre (Ang, you probably know this backstage area quite well) and they had also set aside a dressing room with Matt's name on it.
This is the choir area. That's Matt's jacket. Where is everyone? We were all in Matt's dressing area... with the food trays!!!
Now, before I get to the part about the actual performance let me just talk for a moment about Dave. Dave is in the band with Mr. Happy aka Andrew. I've known Dave (well, as much as you can get to know a guy who used to spend a couple evenings a week in your basement and now you only see rarely at concerts) for oh, about 6? years now. I knew that he has a degree in music and that he can play pretty much any musical instrument you give to him. I know that he has written music for some pretty big projects in the past. But you know how you can know something and then, well, not really understand it? Yeah, well, Dave arranged the symphony parts for (I think) 5 of the 7 songs that the symphony played with Matt. It just blew my mind wide open. I swear... I felt this overwhelming urge to knit Dave that hat I had promised him after he gave us the tickets back in January.
Dave came to me about 5 minutes before curtain call and handed a ticket to me. I had thought I was going to spend the entire concert peeking through the stage door. But nooooo. The Dave pulled through (oh, yeah, he's sooooo "The Dave" now). Before the seat became available, Andrew had introduced me to Tim, Matt's drummer. Tim's sister was there as well and Tim hadn't been able to secure a ticket for her. I would have felt like a complete creep if I had taken away her chance to use the ticket. After a hasty debate, we decided to share the ticket. I had the seat for the first half of the concert and she had it for the second. yeah!
I got settled in my seat (thank you, kind people who had to stand while I climbed past) and realized I couldn't remember having ever been to the symphony. They started off the evening playing "Akasha" by Glenn Buhr.
Then Matt walked out on stage. In sharp contrast to the symphony musicians, Matt was wearing jeans, a red Banook Atoms (local canoe club) shirt and a grey knit touque with a B on the side (it was soooo not wool; that boy needs a handknit hat). He played one song on guitar (Downtown), much to the delight of the audience. Then his band came out (Tim wore a tuxedo shirt with a "Club Zed" logo and the bass player - ROB? - wore a Styx concert tour shirt from the early 80s - soooo classic). Then Matt sat down at the piano to play "Season to Leave", He asked the audience how they were all doing and then said something along the lines of, "That's great. 'cause I'm terrified." Then they started to play with the symphony backing them up.
Now, I've listened to these songs over and over. I play the cds of the musicians Andrew knows or has recorded while I'm at home on the weekend and in the evenings. Sometimes I take the cds to work and play them while I'm doing something mindless. Hearing Matt play with the symphony was like hearing the songs for the first time all over again. My jaw dropped. The songs themselves are great; they're the kind of songs that make you want to sing along. Matt is a great songwriter. Throw in a symphony to beef them up and wow. I never could have imagined it.
So, you're all wondering about the choir, right? They were like the cherry topping on the sundae. They all tromped out on stage three different times. There was Jason, wearing his "Support Your Right To Arm Bears" t-shirt, Jenn G (best red boots EVER), Rose C (who had the misfortune of singing in my basement one night a few years ago - poor girl), three other girls (Matt and Tim's girlfriends and another couple girls whose names I didn't get), Tyler, Dave and Andrew. If I missed anyone, sorry, I have a crappy memory tonight. They did their oooohs and aaaaaahs and I think made Matt feel a little more at ease on the stage.
At one point, when I was sitting in the audience, I leaned to the person I was sitting with (Kasia! Hey!) and said, "Look at Andrew - see the boots? Those are the steel-toed boots he wore when he worked at the ------. They've come a long way from there to the stage at the symphony, eh?"
Now, I know you some of you wanted to see photos. I do have photos, however, I wasn't able to take any photos from the audience, so they're all back stage stuff. I also don't have the permission of the people in the photos to post them here. I'm going to forward some of them to the people who were involved in the evening. If they pop up on their personal web-pages, well then, I'll be sure to point them out.
And Jen? Yeah, I behaved myself.