About seven years ago, I had the privilege of opening for Matt. The “band” was an acoustic power(less) trio â€” me on vocals and my good friends Pete and Fred on rhythm and lead guitars, respectively. The show was in Berkeley; unfortunately, Pete was in Napa and Fred was in Nashville, so rehearsal time? Not so much. The show was a train wreck. Pete broke two strings and decided to switch to electric bass mid-set, Fred didn’t know some of the material, and I was my usual uninspired/uninspiring self. I ended by telling the audience that I was going to go and drown myself in the toilet.
Matt Nathanson, on the other hand, was flawless. Say what you will about his songs, but as a performer, he’s terrific. He had the crowd eating out of his hand for the duration of his set â€” a set he finished with a rousing singalong cover of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” (download). Which is why I sort of like that song now, against my will. Fortunately for me, he didn’t perform “Something to Believe In” (download).