Published Apr 30, 2009Matt Ward is an odd fellow. Blessed with an aged voice and an inclination toward "older" music, he's a man out of time. Earlier solo appearances found an idiosyncratic singer who looked uncomfortable and awkward while he easily blew crowds away with his intimate songs of death and heartbreak.
Well, making his first appearance post-She & Him, his triumphant collaboration with Zooey Deschanel, M. Ward has ditched the awkward teenager and built up a pseudo-Travelling Music Revue. Sure it was impressive and crackerjack tight, but it didn't feel right.
Throughout the night, there were two M. Ward's battling for supremacy. Cranking up the crowd with juiced-up takes on "Chinese Translation," "Big Boat" and "Helicopter" was M. Ward the Revue ringleader, bouncing from piano to electric guitar and back again, rallying his fellow musicians for good laid-back rock vibes. In the middle, though, was the M. Ward of yore, dazzling with the intimacy of "Fuel For Fire."
Ignoring the crowd and playing for himself, it was the absolute highlight of the night. At no time did M. Ward try to reconcile these two beasts, but it was probably best as the crowd were happiest when he played newer, louder songs. While this show was a showcase of tight melodies and inspired rock'n'roll, the essence that makes M. Ward this wonderfully bizarre odd man out was completely lost.
He's now a confident entertainer with a capital "E" and, unfortunately, the man who seems to want nothing more than to be with Robert Johnson as he sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads will now only exist in my speakers.