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Matthew Good blends indie-rock with a heavy dose of cynicism – by Owen Hann, photos by Rob Porter

The Vancouver singer-songwriter played Victoria’s Alix Goolden Hall Nov. 6 Matthew Good kicked off his latest tour in Victoria last night in support of his most recent album Chaotic Neutral.

After young Canadian newcomer Scott Helman opened the show, Good and his multi-generational band took the stage to an eerie space station recording that proceeded to count them down as they delved into “Cold Water” from the new album. This was followed by the stunning “Army of Lions”—two tracks that come in succession towards the end of Chaotic Neutral.

“Born Losers” from 2007’s Hospital Music was a huge crowd-pleaser, and briefly satiated an audience that was already starting to call out names of songs they wanted to hear, a phenomenon that Good appeared to find repulsive. “Is this how this works now?” he asked the crowd at one point, alluding to the fact that it’s been a while since he last toured.

His lineup needed some introduction as well, a formality Good never obliged, but his new guitarist proved himself aptly capable of keeping up with the otherwise ageing band and even added some effects with a complex pedal setup that Good asked at one point if he had “had nightmares about.”

Good and his band continued to tear through new songs “Moment,” “Cloudbusting” (a Kate Bush cover, apparently), album opener “All You Sons and Daughters,” “No Liars,” and “Kid Down the Well,” all while fielding shouted requests by pretending to mishear them for other songs—the funniest example being “Empty Road” taken for “Country Roads,” which to Good’s surprise his young guitarist knew how to play.

He indulged the crowd briefly again with “Alert Status Red” from 2004’s White Light Rock & Roll Review and Beautiful Midnight’s “Load Me Up” before closing his scheduled set with two more new songs, “Los Alamos” and Harridan,” sandwiched around 2003’s “Weapon.” Good then left the stage without much of a sign-off.

He came back on again, though, after some convincing from the crowd, to the opening cheer of “Giant” (K-I-C-K-A-S-S / That’s the way we spell success) and played the last-but-one song from his new album, “Girls in Black,” before closing the show with his 1997 classic “Apparitions.” Radiohead’s “No Surprises” from the same year was a fitting song to play over the speakers as the audience filtered out—content, but perhaps not altogether satisfied.

Full set list:

  1. Cold Water
  2. Army of Lions
  3. Born Losers
  4. Moment
  5. Cloudbusting (Kate Bush cover)
  6. All You Sons and Daughters
  7. No Liars
  8. Kid Down the Well
  9. Alert Status Red
  10. Load Me Up
  11. Los Alamos
  12. Weapon
  13. Harridan
  14. Giant
  15. Girls in Black
  16. Apparitions

– Owen Hann

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