Pop artist Matthew Sweet played a 15-song show and 2-song encore to a partisan, enthusiastic crowd that seemed to know the words to every song. Sweet has been a regular visitor to San Diego since the early ’90s, with part of his 1992 promo album, Good Friend, recorded live at SDSU’s Open Air Amphitheatre and a 1997 appearance at the Belly Up that was broadcast as part of the syndicated radio program Live from the Pit.
The evening’s show, which opened strong with the rocker “Time Capsule” (1993), was a crowd-pleasing set, with nearly half of the tunes coming from Sweet’s first album of note, 1991’s Girlfriend, and four more from its follow up, 1993’s Altered Beast.
While the band was tight, and the sound was loud and clear, Sweet was reportedly under the weather, resulting in minimal audience interaction and a performance that saw him playing most tunes with his eyes closed in concentration. That said, Sweet played with passion and the power of his band — drummer Ric Menck, bassist Paul Chastain, and guitarist Dennis Taylor — more than carried the day. From my vantage point, Sweet only smiled twice during the show, but both times it was in response to enthusiastic fans up front.
After three straight songs from Girlfriend, Sweet played the newest song of the evening, “She Walks the Night,” from 2011’s Modern Art, before moving on to the melancholy, Big Star-ish ballad “Someone to Pull the Trigger” (1993). This tune got one of the biggest responses of the night, with camera phones out en masse from this point on.
The set wrapped up with a spirited take of hit song “Girlfriend,” with the band quickly returning with a pair of rockers, “The Devil With the Green Eyes” (1993) and “Sick of Myself” (1995).
Although it might have been nice to hear a few more new tunes in the set, or even a few b-sides (“Ultra Suede,” maybe), this greatest hits show left the audience sated.
- Concert: Matthew Sweet
- Date: January 2, 2014
- Venue: Belly Up
- Seats: General