Matthew Not So Sweet These Days

In a post titled "Ugly Truth Rock: What Does Matthew Sweet Owe Us?" folks at Idolator take the power pop maven to task over recent performances while touring behind his most recent album Sunshine Lies, particularly a San Francisco date which only drew 200 in a 600 capacity venue. And for being overweight.

One of our all-time favorite concerts was Sweet's March 25th, 2000 date at Irving Plaza, NYC. If we recall correctly this was the tour in support of In Reverse, the first of his albums that really didn't do anything for us. But regardless, we got tickets and brought a date, (who turned out to be--unbeknownst to us--a minor celebrity who got us into the VIP area) and elated from the show rushed out to Queens to play a set with our own band, energized by the stellar performance we'd witnessed earlier.

But more importantly, and to the point, we've always considered that night's concert as the ideal performance. Why? The band was in top form; the sound was decent; Sweet performed 22 songs (7 from the new album and 15 from his catalog), and we got to hear everything a devoted fan would want to, within reason. (Maybe 5 tunes from In Reverse would've been enough, but hey…)

As longtime fans of Sweet's it saddens us to hear that the recent SF show is a common example of what this tour is like. (Not being thrilled with his latest album and lousy weather kept us from his recent NYC stop.) Someone with a catalog as sizeable as Sweet's should play longer shows and even mix it up a bit with an acoustic set, as was suggested by one Idolator reader. As for the size of the crowd, that's beyond his control, and if he's touring without his own sound man, that's one more thing left to chance. (Then again, the house sound guy has very little excuse for not pulling it off: you work the joint every night, for Pete's sake!)

Truthfully, while Sweet isn't likely to pick up any new fans at this point, that sense of resignation shouldn't extend to taking his followers for granted in any way shape or form. It's not like he can afford to lose/alienate followers at this stage of his career. And 13-song sets half-devoted to a new album is a step in that direction. Granted, there's nothing wrong with showcasing a good chunk of your new record--that's why they're out there touring--but an established artist can't get away with a set consisting of 50% new tunes, either. (Having said, the AC/DC model is also not a good choice: Bon Scott-era tunes and Back in Black, plus "For Those About to Rock", "Thunderstruck" and 2 songs from whatever new album they've just released. But maybe that's EXACTLY what their fans want.)

For whatever reason, Sweet chose not to do a 15th anniversary Girlfriend tour two years ago. Maybe it would've been more feasible had he gone on hiatus for a while, but Sweet has not been MIA: he's actually released 3 solo albums of new material this decade, one of which, Kimi Ga Suki, is up there with his very best. (It also features the closest thing to a reunion of the Girlfriend lineup.)

As for Sweet's girth, if it indeed is affecting his health and ability to perform on stage, that is a legitimate concern. Otherwise, let the man be. He's 44 yrs old, he's been big for at least a decade now, and not everyone on stage needs to look like John Mayer, despite what anyone says.


Dan Gibson said...

Just to clarify, I never said anything about Sweet's weight. Some of the comment section might have, but as the applicable member of the Idolator staff in this case, that's just not something I'd do.

Kiko Jones said...

Duly noted, sir.