m. ward @ dc’s sixth and I historic synagogue, 2.21.09

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Having just released Hold Time last Tuesday, Matt Ward played a fantastic set Saturday night at DC’s historic Sixth and I Street Historical Synagogue. Vivian Girls opened and put on a mediocre performance. They have some solid lo-fi elements but just did not sustain any captivating interest or bring enough variety as each song uses the same song structure. However, the ginger bassist is a complete fox and they seemed like nice people.

One of my favorite aspects of this venue are the great acoustics it echoes. What astounds me most about Matt Ward is his voice and how amazing it comes across, which was a perfect match with the venue’s great acoustics. When listening to his studio recordings, one gets the sense at times that there must some sort of effect put on his vocals. Seeing him live proves otherwise and he truly has a gift in drawing you in with his gifted guitar work and superb vocals.

Ward came on for a several song solo set followed by his band thereafter. Some standouts were his classics from his 2003 Transfiguration of Vincent album such as “Undertaker” and his cover of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Of course, he played tracks from his new release and staples from Post War including “Poison Cup” and “Chinese Translation”, closing the show with “Magic Trick.” However, he did not play “To Go Home” and my personal favorite “Outta My Head” (included here for your enjoyment).

All in all, Ward conveyed songs akin to great American folk and country-rooted pop from a distant era with great warmth and intimacy that only left the audience yearning for more. Now, on to sxsw.

Outta My Head (from Transfiguration of Vincent)

and listen here for a recent live studio set recorded for WNYC.

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~ by the reckoner on February 23, 2009.

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