On the cusp of the European leg of his tour, Matt Simons gave a beautiful performance at the Hollywood Bowl, as the opener for 2Cellos. The crowd held captive by opening song, “After the Landslide” (title track to his 2019 album), which delivered melancholy honeyed vocals and gorgeous melodic runs, with Simons playing solo at the piano. “Summer With You” (from the same record) introduced a more upbeat jam with seemingly effortless harmonies between himself, Chris Ayer and Rodney Flood, including a three-part acapella breakdown section.
The show continued with “Open Up” and “Not Falling Apart.” Each song speaks to standing in your truth and embracing your vulnerability, with the latter about pretending to be fine when you are missing someone. The crowd chanted along to the line “I don’t need your love.” An Ed-Sheeran-esque reggaetón vibe followed with “We Can Do Better,” ending with a fabulous drum fill from Flood. Simons shared having written the song for his wife before proposing to her, as it was his desire to create something new and strong for their marriage (against today’s statistical odds).
Simons also shared his interpretation of Simon & Garfunkel’s 1970’s classic, “The Boxer” (the final track on his new album, Identity Crisis), with his and Ayer’s vocals complimenting each other perfectly in their elegant style and timbre. The lullaby-feel and subtle entry on the drum backup created a stunning simplicity in the tribute.
Set closer, “Catch & Release” (Simons’ best-known hit from 2014) had the crowd dancing, clapping and singing along with the pop tune chorus. Incorporating electronic effects and synthesized sounds over the trio’s solid playing added a modern edge to the singer-songwriter sound.
With four full albums, three EPs, and 17 charting singles since his self-released debut, Pieces, in 2012, Simons is an unassuming, natural performer and shares himself in a simultaneously confident and gentle way, captivating the crowd with his authentic persona. His talented trio produces a great sound and appears comfortable and at ease on stage, inviting the audience to relax into their show and just ‘be’ while listening in.
Photo Credit: Kris Pouw