Matt Mays @ Molson Canadian Studio – 24 March 2013

MM_Mar2013_7So it has taken me a bit to sit down and write this concert review.  This was Jay Smith’s (guitar, at left in photo) second last show before his unexpected passing two nights later in Edmonton.  What do I say?  Writing about the show and ignoring the significance of this particular performance is like trying to ignore the elephant in the room.  But on the other hand I do not want to dwell on the tragedy either.

So here is what I am going to say on the matter and then I will talk about the show.  Let’s see if I can achieve some balance.  I am very grateful that I got to see one of Jay’s last performances.  Having been a fan of Matt Mays since the El Torpedo days I am ashamed to say that I have not seen a performance since “Cocaine Cowgirl” was a radio hit and they opened for Blue Rodeo (which was 1 June 2005 – I keep ticket stubs).  That was before Jay joined the band and help usher in the gritter sound we hear on the Terminal Romance album.  And what an addition he was to the band.  Such a talented guitar player.  So out of utter disregard for my eardrums I stood right up front on Sunday just a couple of feet away from Jay and watched him play so effortlessly.  Such a thrill.

After Jay’s unexpected passing two nights later, Matt Mays and the band posted a statement on Facebook that they would continue the tour as Jay would have wanted and that all proceeds would go to Jay’s children.  They have subsequently set-up a trust fund for anyone that wishes to donate at  Very classy.  Please donate.  Traffic was so heavy the first day that they had to set up additional sites to handle the volume.  Canadian music fans are the best.  My thoughts go out to Kendel, Dustin and my other musicians friends that knew him well.  Cherish your memories.

If you want a real treat, take a listen to Jay’s self-titled solo album.  It is fantastic and you can download it from Bandcamp.

Now on to the actual show – the reason we (concert wingman Bryan and I) picked this show was that my pals Dustin Bentall & The Smokes were opening instead of July Talk on the rest of the tour.  It goes without saying how big of a DB fan I am.  It was good to see Del Cowsill back with the band after sitting out of the Lindi Ortega tour.  They were great as usual and played the standards like “Three Thousand Miles”, “Streets With No Lights”, “Emmy Lou”.  I think they really won the harder Matt Mays crowd over with really rockin’ renditions of “Shine” and “Six Shooter”.  Kendel just tore it up on the fiddle, it was ridiculous (in a good way).

Dustin said that Matt and the band were going to “blow the fucking roof off the place,” and boy did they!  They opened with “Indio” the current singe off the Coyote album released last year.  I love that tune.  Being a guitar nut, I just could not take my eyes of Matt’s Gretsch White Falcon.  He alternated between that and a Rickenbacker.  No acoustic at all.  Which is okay but there a few songs that would have lent quite nicely to an acoustic treatment.  The highlight for me was “Terminal Romance”.  A wicked song as it is on the album but live it just blew me away.  The only downside to the show was “Cocaine Cowgirl”.  As expected it closed the encore however it was not well done.  The tempo was off, Matt botched the intro and the guitar solo at the end degenerated beyond something enjoyable.  That said, it by no means ruined the show.  I loved it and am very thankful I was there given what the future would hold.

Check out some shots from the show.