Material: The resounding audience appraisal that could be heard throughout the venue during the show was, “This guy reminds me of Dave Matthews!” That is probably due, in part, to the largeness of the band––but primarily the inclusion of violin. While as a lyricist at times Westerman is reminiscent of Ben Folds, with quirky titles like “Hipsters, iPods, and Cigarettes,” the messages in these upbeat songs seem to be about living up to one’s full potential, as in: “...I’m not quite sure what I do best/So I’m just gonna leave here with no regrets...Time it marches on, no it just don’t wait/So I just better get on it today/One day we’re gonna be gone so why should we worry?”
Musicianship: While the vocals are low at points, the compositions provide ample space for instrumental solos. Swanson gets the crowd pumped up most especially on “High As I Can” with plenty of solid bass drum action, along with tight bass lines from Romero. Darbeau is the highlight here with several thrilling solos and outros that fade out so hauntingly that the room is left breathless. The group also pulls off an impressively faithful rendition of Coldplay’s “Yellow,” another crowd favorite.
Performance: One striking aspect of this show was that Westerman consistently and profusely thanked his audience and they adored him for it. He also encouraged them to sing along and participate in songs like “As We Go,” where he was joined by Lauren on lovely backing vocals. The presentation here was very singer-songwriter, with a lot of introductory banter. Though there was a lot of this, it was never overdrawn and didn’t slow down the show.
Summary: Matt Westerman’s set-list is a perfect balance of slower ballads and uptempo numbers. The only suggestion for improvement is to end the show on the upbeat “High As I Can” instead of on a ballad, which lost the attention of the audience. One aspect of Westerman’s appeal is his motivational songs, and if he stays true to his own voice it will continue to attract a positive response.
The Players: Matt Westerman, guitar, vocals; Rosalind Darbeau, violin; Alex Romero, bass; Gabe Rosenn, guitar; Brad Swanson, drums; Matthew Lurie, keyboard; Marissa Lauren, backing vocals; Katherine Eva, backing vocals.