When Matthew Good shared the news of his father’s passing, he was quick to cite the sense of duty and professionalism instilled in him by his father, explaining that his burgeoning Moving Walls tour (which started only 2 days prior) would continue on. Not many would have faulted Matt had he opted to postpone these dates and head back across the country to be with his family during this difficult time. Instead, during Friday night’s show in Halifax, he recalled his father’s final moments, as he was on the phone with his brother, holding their father’s hand back in BC as he passed away. It was one of many moments during the show where Matt would take the time to share and converse with his loyal fan base, and it’s those moments that make a Matthew Good show a special experience.
There’s a sense of purpose that fuels the new record (Moving Walls); you can hear the emotionality and weight that is ingrained in the material. There are plenty of fans who have been listening since the early days of the Matthew Good Band and know his catalogue inside and out, but this record feels far more intimate and honest than a large swath of his discography. He spent a large number of his waking hours over the last year or so living with his parents, in an effort to help take care of his ailing father who was waging a war against both dementia and cancer. It’s a period in anyone’s life that would be harrowing and emotionally taxing; not too many would then carve out a nook in the garage and began to craft a new record, and plan out a new tour which would start on the opposite side of the country.
But having lived with his folks, and helped to take care of his father, a degree of peace with the inevitable had to have been reached before embarking on this tour, and knowing that your fans would convene across the country must have made the distance somewhat easier. On the first of two Halifax dates, a congregation gathered inside of the Marquee Ballroom that was more than ready to indulge in the offerings from the sometimes salty, always honest singer-songwriter. Not only was the gathering prepared to celebrate the artist’s new material, but the congregation was ready to emotionally buoy the man on stage, be it with words of encouragement or the occasional shot of bourbon. We were there for him like his music has been there for many of us.
While his relationship with his early material is fraught with turmoil and conflict, and those songs may represent a different time in his artistry, he also understands the relationship that the fans have with the early material. During each set, a couple of those early cuts make the setlist, if only to prevent him from being run out of town. The funny thing is that he talked about the way in which Covid-19 is proving to be something of a unifying force in the world, as we have no choice but to band together, much like a league of refugees, as we don’t have a sanctuary to flee to. For many of us in attendance, we choose to worship at an altar of live music, and we congregate to the venue to escape the outside world for a few hours. When tracks such as “Load Me Up”, “Hello Time Bomb”, or “Giant” hit, the congregation quickly transforms into a community, happily singing along, sharing smiles and high-fives throughout.
Moving Walls may be an album which has tinges of beauty while being largely soaked in sadness, but the way in which these songs are integrated alongside tracks such as “Born Losers”, “Something Like a Storm” or “Weapon” makes it a more upbeat affair. It’s always a treat to see Stuart Cameron, Blake Manning, and Peter Fusco, but if we arrived and saw Matt walk out on stage, with just a guitar, mic and a pair of simple lights, we would still walk away having witnessed a magical night. When all was said and done, Matt Good and his bandmates played their hearts out in Halifax, and it was a fantastic blend of new and old, complete with a couple of energized singalongs. And Matt making his way through the crowd to grab a shot of bourbon, eventually returning to the stage to sell the crowd on the Pixies album Doolittle and how Frank Black and co. crafted the quiet-loud dynamic that Good uses to great effect. It was a moment that was honest, heartfelt and very real, and just further endeared the artist to his hardcore fan base.