Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Concert Review: Matthew Ryan + Molly Thomas at Cicero's in St. Louis

To understand and appreciate Matthew Ryan's music, you have to be a little lucky, at least that's what I've come to believe. If you're introduced to his catalog via the "wrong" song or album, you might not make it past the first minute or so. You might be scared off by his voice. You might just give up.

And Matthew Ryan could have given up on Monday night in St. Louis. The turnout wasn't as he (or I) had hoped, and a lesser performer would have sped through a few songs while his or her touring vehicle kept warm in the parking lot.

But that's not Matthew Ryan.

He took requests. He walked around the audience while he played said requests (without any amplification). He performed most of his newest album, Dear Lover. He hung out after the show and chatted with the people who chose to come and see him play.

Ryan's a believer, you see. I've met a few musicians, but none quite like him. I'm sort of at a loss for words here, but he's a real person. And rather than go through a play-by-play of the concert, below you will find a video I took of "Your Museum," the show closer, which is also one of my favorites off of Dear Lover. Its words, which I'll leave you with, sum up the whole Matthew Ryan experience for me:

Maybe once, In a hundred million years
Has there been one like you my dear

So bright, so pure, so clear

The torch that lights my way

The sky is as bright tonight as my eyes

The darkest parts are behind me now and soon the sun will rise, the sun will rise

1 comment:

  1. I've listened to Matthew Ryan's music for a decade now, growing along with it, and it has never failed to reach out and rip emotion from me. When I saw Matthew at a show in Dallas a year or so ago, I commented to him that some of the most inspiring and uplifting music is a song that is painfully sad, and I've long felt that Matthew Ryan writes some of the very best sad music of any songwriter. Whether happy or sad, Ryan's music grabs on to you and won't let go.

    In every performance I've ever attended of his, there is an incredible connection with the audience. It doesn't matter whether there are 10 people in the audience or hundreds of people. Matthew Ryan isn't a performer who stands on a pedestal and plays TO the crowd. He's performing FOR his audience and WITH his audience. It is clear that he enjoys sharing his gift with those around him, and I think this is a big part of what makes his shows truly at the very top of ANY concerts I've ever gone to, large or small.

    I was in the crowd Monday night in St. Louis (I flew from Dallas to St. Louis Monday afternoon specifically to come to this show...), and as Jason commented, I was sad that so few people had discovered Matthew Ryan (or that so few had realized he was there). But I'm convinced that the big breakthrough will come when the world discovers Ryan and his music. I just hope that when that happens he'll still be able to play shows that are so intimate, so personal and so satisfying.

    I daren't let this comment end without also pointing out what a great partner Ryan has in Molly Thomas. Her multi-instrumental skills (violin, piano, vocal, tamborine and comic-sidekick) are impressive, and it's a pleasure to hear these two fine musicians.