concert reviews

Matt Nathanson at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Friday 29 October 2004

Singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson looked a little awkward onstage at the 9:30 club Friday night, often standing with his shoulders tensed, his knees together but feet apart. That gawkiness melted away when he talked to the audience, telling the stories behind his songs or ranting about why Rick Springfield never pursued the object of his affection in "Jessie's Girl."

While Nathanson was backed by a three-piece band for most of the show, he did play a few songs on his own. But even when his band was onstage, Nathanson was unquestionably the center of attention, his between-songs banter often veering way off-color. Despite the early show time (due to another engagement at the club, Nathanson was offstage before 10 p.m.), the group maintained a high energy all night, even breaking into a cover of Black Sabbath's "Crazy Train."

Most of his uptempo tunes started to sound alike during the 90-minute show, but Nathanson inserted a few ballads in his set list. Unfortunately, some of those quieter tunes, like "New Coats and New Hats," were disrupted by the rumble of the crowd. Nathanson's sense of humor brought the crowd's focus back on him by the end of the night for a singalong of his song "Answering Machine."

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 1 November 2004
.: Selected discography: Beneath These Fireworks (Matt Nathanson, 2003); Still Waiting For Srping (Matt Nathanson, 2001).