In support of his 2011 album, Young Love, Mat Kearney (pronounced “Carney”) has hit the road again for a 2012 tour. I have been a long time fan of Mat’s since his first album came out in 2006. His first single “Nothing Left to Lose” had a video that was in rotation on VH1, and I immediately loved the song. Based off that song alone, I went out and bought the album which is of the same name as the single. What many people may not have known before purchasing the album (like myself) is that Mat does rap in some his songs. Mat has gone on to make two more albums, City of Black and White and the aforementioned Young Love.
This was my first Mat Kearney concert, and it took place at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas, Texas on February 3, 2012. The Majestic Theatre is an old-fashioned, very grand looking venue inside, but smaller in size compared to the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. It had just the right ambience to make the evening of music great.
There was not much of a stage set to speak of for the concert. The drummer and keyboardist were raised up from the floor, while the guitarist, bassist, and Mat himself were in front. Behind them were four lights that reminded me of a heat lamp or old-fashioned flash bulbs. These would light up or fade in/fade out at different periods of the songs. There was also a wood structure at the back that looked like a large railroad track that revealed its purpose a few songs into the show as the lights on the wood lit up. It was a good, minimalist setup that created just the right amount of effect for the songs. The effect was great for the opening song, “Fire & Rain.”
I have to say that I was very impressed that Mat Kearney live sounds exactly like Mat Kearney on any of his albums. I have been to a few shows and have heard live tracks where the singer sounds nothing like what you hear on a CD. Mat Kearney obviously has a natural talent, and it was definitely not messed with or altered in the recording process.
Mat is very good at conversing with the audience and was at ease talking to the crowd about the certain songs. The song “All I Need” is about a husband and wife who retreated to his house in Nashville when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. He explained that the song took on another meaning when it was used in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy with doctors making out on table to the song. He discussed in detail what “Rochester” was about, giving the audience a nice summation about how his grandfather and his father lived in Rochester, NY. Mat also made up a rap about Dallas and inserted it into “Undeniable.”
Mat brought up a young man on stage that had experience with drums to play a “suitcase” for the drum part of an acoustic version of “All I Have.” I absolutely love when artists do this because it certainly makes that person’s day and it will be something he/she remembers for the rest of their lives. Mat also ran into the crowd during one song, making his way through the aisles and some of the rows and proceeded to do high-fives, shake hands, give hugs, and even take photos with the audience members.
Altogether, I highly enjoyed the show that Mat Kearney and his band gave for Dallas. It has to be one of the best concerts I have been to in a long time. It has been awhile since I have been to a concert where all sorts of age ranges were in attendance, from the older couples to the elementary school kids. Mat is great at connecting with the audience, and they loved it. He is great at improvising, inserting some Usher and Nicki Minaj into a song without any hesitation. I was already a fan to begin with, but seeing Mat live has brought my fandom to another level. I would highly recommend checking out his concert if you enjoy this genre of music.
–Set list (to the best of my recollection):
Opened with Fire & Rain
Young Dumb and In Love
Count on Me, Down
Breathe In, Breathe Out
Closer to Love
Nothing Left to Lose
All I Have (acoustic)
Where Do We Go From Here
Here We Go
She Got the Honey
All I Need
Ships in the Night
by Sarah Ksiazek, Photos by Reanna Streater-Nunn