Jun 112012

I was never a huge Matthew Sweet fan. Not to say I didn’t dig him, I just never bought any of his music, including his great Girlfriend CD. So when me and the missus were invited to join fellow Townsman AndyR and his missus for dinner and the show at Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live, we had a slight regret (just for the show, of course).

A bit of history here: Our great college friend and housemate Eric Peterson (RIP) was best friends growing up with Sweet (from Lincoln, NE).  He was always talking him up and playing us demos to which we were optimistic about but hey, who do we really know that’s actually gonna “make it” in the music biz. So when he broke as huge as he did—and deservedly so—I think we were all a bit taken back. And the fact that he had the balls to play with two of my all-time favorite guitarists really impressed me outta my mind. I need to read about how they hooked up. That would be a book in itself.

Now there were a few things that we were worried about. How would Sweet’s jangly/sorta effeminate pop play live? How could anyone replace Robert Quine and Richard Lloyd? And what about those man-boobs Sweet had acquired from years of having the munchies through his pot-soaked years. And backed by bassist and drummer of Velvet Crush (now, I do have two of their CDs) would they even be MORE jangly than I feared?

Well, I am happy to report that 1) dinner with AndyR and the wives was awesome and 2) more of a surprise—Matthew Sweet was awesome.

He was heavy. And I mean really heavy thanks to a lead guitarist that played every solo loud and, while not note-for-note, totally captured the spirit and wizardry of the originals. Even Sweet said he had big shoes to fill…and fill him he did. Even the Velvet Crush guys were more than serviceable. Sweet’s voice was in great form and he was turned up as well—so it was a great heavy affair.

They played the whole Girlfriend album in order—including the three bonus tracks included in the reissue. Then ended with his other hit from the other album because he didn’t want the show to end on a downer. He came out for an encore, which we missed. (Fan, not huge fan.) The first 6 songs were all radio-station staples—and, like I said, they really, really rocked.

All in all, a fun night of Rock, with some other RTHers in the audience for good measure. I might buy that CD after all.


  12 Responses to “Concert Review: Matthew Sweet at World Cafe Live”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    I’m still a Sweet skeptic. Man, have you HEARD those turds he dropped with Susannah Hoffs? Maybe dude was just trying to replenish the bank account, but still. Execrable. Awful. Tastelessly so.

  2. I just could not bring myself to see him so heavy, I dont know why. But I also never did any smoking!

  3. machinery

    I agree his “look” was an admittedly shallow turnoff. But we redeemed ourselves by looking past his exterior to his interior. And we were better for it. Life lesson, there.

  4. mockcarr

    What does that all that crap have to do with a concert involving this album? I was disappointed, but it mostly stemmed from being jostled, obstructed, missing the beginning, the sound being a murky mess, and my usual curmudgeon default getting set.

  5. I’ve seen Matthew over the years, when he was thinner (1995), and when he was heavier (last in 2004 or so?), and I’ve always enjoyed him live.

    On record, he’s hit/miss with me. I really liked Girlfriend, really really liked Altered Beast, really really liked 100% Fun, and liked maybe 30% of the tracks from everything after that.

    The Hoff stuff was disappointing to me, and shocking because I love covers. I thought it was gonna be great. Instead sounded like weak karaoke, covers done for the sake of doing them. I think the only track I really enjoyed was ‘Different Drum’ because that’s such a good song it is hard to ruin. You could play it on a kazoo and I’d probably like it.

    PS I love Velvet Crush. Rik Menck is a monster.

  6. Bummed that I missed it because I was out of town on business. I’ve always loved that album and several of his others as well. The guitar playing from Quine and Lloyd on Girlfriend is amazing and really does give some balls to Sweet’s compositions. I don’t know for sure, but based on rumors and having known people with serious mental illness who packed on the pounds, I am betting his weight gain is due to taking a drug like Zyprexa. Full disclosure – I’ve put back-on a ton of weight in the last 15 years, but I did it the old fashioned way – sloth, food and drink.

  7. Welcome aboard, tovjim. I know what you mean about packing on the pounds the old-fashioned way!

  8. ladymisskirroyale

    Having resided in Providence when Velvet Crush was making it big, I witnesses many a time the rocking power (not just tweeness) that Paul and Rick were able to deliver. Jeffrey (guitarist) has been doing some of his own stuff as well as touring with a previous band of his, Small Factory. He and I still keep in touch and I’m hoping to coax him to do an interview with us.

  9. Slim Jade

    I first got into Matthew Sweet after hearing him play bass on Lloyd Cole’s first solo album (also featuring Robert Quine and drummer Fred Maher).

    He’s had his ups and downs, sure, but Girlfriend is well worth it. Released on the heels of Nevermind, it fit with the whole flannel scene, but it has a power-pop heart.

  10. I really really like about half of Girlfriend, but the thing I like more that the songs is the production. Big stereo separation and dry as a bone.

  11. Girlfriend did sound great. So did Bandwagonesque from the same time period. There was a lot that could have happened that got swept away when Nirvana hit.

  12. I realize this thread is 2.5 years old, but somehow my insomnia led me here. So I must clarify… When you say “heavy”, you mean his sound, right?

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