Article and photos by Sophie Cannon, Editor-in-Chief
Boy-next-door Mat Kearney took dad jokes and nostalgia to a whole new level during his show at the House of Blues March 12. Listening to his top hits transported the audience back almost a decade, a good call considering the majority of the packed room were in their late 20s and above.
Kicking off the set with “Hey Mama” off of his 2011 album “Young Love,” the Oregon-turned-Tennessee native rocketed through his first six songs before breaking for some Boston-based banter with the crowd.
“Boston is the greatest music city in America,” Kearney yelled to the crowd’s predicted delight. “It’s like Boston…Chicago is right here, but you have ‘em by two…oyster shells!”
Admitting his humor was not the best, he didn’t stop with the corny jokes, next targeting the esteemed school in the Boston area.
“Anybody from BU? My brother was a Boston University grad, the little dogs,” he said, referring to the Boston Terrier mascot. “What else…Harvard? Any super smart people? Four of you, good, the rest of you are studying at home. MIT…? Your calculator fell out of your pocket just there.”
While the humor was juvenile, the performance was kid-like in a much better way. Despite debuting some new tracks off of his yet-to-be-released album coming May 4 (and don’t worry, he did make a May the Fourth “Star Wars” joke during the show), the set was mostly comprised of songs from “Young Love” and his 2009 album “City of Black and White,” and the encore songs were both from his 2006 debut album “Nothing Left to Lose.”
Even with the older music, Kearney made sure that the performance of the songs was not stale on stage. With a high intensity of excitement and dance moves (that allow for a guitar and a wide-brimmed hat of course), he brought a few added surprises to the set.
In a mashup of “Forever Young” and “Runaway,” a little girl in neon leggings and a smile bigger than her face could hold, was escorted up on stage and held hands with the singer, before being given a disco ball to hold. At the beat drop, white lights targeted the ball and she literally and figuratively lit up the room.
This was all following a brief trip to the side of the audience, where Kearney sat among fans with just his mic and guitar to play yet another mashup and cover, Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” and his own “Air I Breathe.” He did the same audience visit with acapella vocals for his encore finale of “Where We Gonna Go From Here,” before officially ending the show with “Nothing Left to Lose.”
After promising to be back, possibly with Judah and the Lion, a band that opened for Kearney years back and headlined the House of Blues just two days prior to this show, audiences will have to see if they like the new May album “Crazy Talk” just as much as their cherished favorites from the 2010s.