Mat Kearney/Eugene's McDonald Theatre Saturday February 18th 2012
Kearney sets fire to the crowd with Adele torch song.
it a safe bet that if the warm-up music before a concert includes Coldplay's
"Lovers in Japan," great music might be just around the corner?
That's just what some of us were hoping while waiting for Mat Kearney to take
the stage at Eugene's packed and sold-out McDonald Theater Saturday night.
Kearney and his 4-member band didn't disappoint. They opened with "Fire
and Rain" from his 2009 "City of Black & White" CD, then
delighted the primarily college-aged crowd with commanding performances of "Young, Dumb and in Love" and
"Count on Me," both from Kearney's recent "Young Love"
much-loved and revered hit singles "Closer to Love" and "Nothing
Left to Lose" followed.
seemed to be in full command of both his band and the audience, and made
frequent conversation with the crowd. Born and raised in Eugene, he tossed out
crowd-pleasing references to the Eugene-Springfield area throughout the show.
"O.K., how many here were born at Sacred Heart Hospital?" Kearney
asked the crowd, and more than half the hands in the house went up.
seemed well-familiar with his latest "Young Love" release, happily
singing along with the chorus of "Learning to Love Again." "You sound very nice!" shouted
Kearney, showing his appreciation with a walk-through the crowd about midway
through the night.
lively "She's Got the Honey" was another terrific crowd-pleaser.
Kearney's band performed the pop artist's set list with a tight cohesion that,
if anything, might have benefited with some surprises - some unexpected forays
diverging from his recordings, perhaps? It would have been great to have heard
some solo's from each of his teammates, for example, as all seemed adept at
their respective crafts, the drummer, particularly.
who's complaining? Kearney admitted to having jitters before this particular
show, sharing that the band had practiced mightily in anticipation of the
hometown performance, and it paid off with smooth delivery from start to
finish. Other standouts of the night: the hit single "Hey Mama" and a
wonderful, lengthy version of "Undeniable" with customized lyrics
highlighting Kearney's hometown memories and catering specifically to this
crowd, this night. "Undeniable" was undeniably great...bringing the
house down with a standing ovation.
of the biggest thunderclaps of the concert? Following the curtain call, Kearney
and bandmates emerged to cap off the night with a heart-stopping, passionate
and very impressive cover of Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain."
out Kearney at one of his future venues if you've a chance, and please, please,
bring us all back a recording of his "Set Fire" version, will you?
Mountain String Band plays the McDonald in April; get tickets early, because
they always sell out.