I appreciate it when show venues are booked in coordination with the genre or type of show happening. It makes a great difference to have an acoustic set, like the show on March 16th featuring Matthew Good with POESY, in an intimate theatre like the Corona Theatre because it adds to the softness of the evening.
At 8pm sharp, POESY stepped on stage barefoot. The calmness that overcame the audience was instantaneous as she let out her voice like a beacon in the silent theatre. This brave, self-made artist grasped everyone’s attention the minute she showed herself on stage. From the first song, it became clear that she was exactly what I had pictured as a child when I imagined free-spirited traveling artists with wild hair and voices like smooth caramel. The audience didn’t seem to know her, but it made no difference whatsoever because she clearly understood that she had a tender opportunity to make people fall in love with her and let her into our souls.
POESY performed an acoustic set, alone with her keyboardist; no fancy lights, no props, nothing but her raw existence in contact with the audience. I believe this was in her best interest because it really showcased her oh-so-velvety voice, and made an impact on how people perceived her as a musician. There was nowhere else to look except at her honest value as a performer. She had incredible control of her voice from the beginning, and I dare say that the Montreal set could have been one of the best of the tour. She was incredibly composed and confident, and had the whole audience watching her as intently as they could.
Her originals “If I Could Kiss You” and “Body Language” are still stuck in my head, and inspired me to pick up my own instrument days after the show. About halfway through her set, we were treated to her cover of “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga. It came unexpectedly, but she seriously owned the diva style, made it sound like her own, and had even the most immobile fellows tapping their feet because it was a song they recognized. Her entire appearance was a set-long emotional conversation with the audience, and it was exactly what everyone seemed to need.
Matthew Good didn’t exactly show himself when he came out, as his first tune was played in almost total darkness. It was the most gentle cradling of a musical set I have seen in some time. You could hear the floor creek beneath the audience with every single movement and breath. He started off with one of his solo pieces, “Champions of Nothing,” but he really didn’t keep anyone waiting for the songs everyone knew by his full band (that broke up in 2002), Matthew Good Band. “Advertising on Police Cars,” “Hello Time Bomb,” and “Apparitions” had every last person humming and singing along. It was an echoing experience of togetherness and simple honesty, reminding everyone, including theatre staff, of their blatant humanity.
The most impressionable part of his set was how it felt in the room. It was impossible to ignore. He made us all feel like we were his old friends, like we were in his house just having an afternoon drink and playing some tunes. Every spectator was engaged, like we weren’t a crowd of 500 or so strangers but a group of people he had already met before. Every person seemed in love with each other and in love with the music, it felt so honest and real.
Good took the opportunity to acknowledge the horrors in New Zealand this past week, and raised his hat to the fact that he could never understand why such things exist; he slowly reminded the audience of their mortality, and of the fickleness that is being human. The clearest message was that kindness is always inside of us. For me, this was mirrored by his constant care for his instruments’ tuning. Switching guitars every couple songs, he was called out by an audience member (it was a regular occurrence there, as anyone who spoke up got an answer and half a conversation), and he had to explain that, to him, it was necessary. He couldn’t possibly play such soft and quietly delicate songs on an instrument that was even in the slightest bit out of tune. The musician in me gave him a spiritual handshake for that.
He played singing games with the crowd, and apparently we surprised the shit out of him because we were the only ones out of 31 shows who confidently knew every lyric, and that was definitely the most joyful moment of the night. By the end of his set, after some pleasantries about children’s songs being a goldmine, everyone had their cheeks pressed together, holding hands in relaxation and happiness. It was a good (pun intended) and successful evening.
Written by Talia Plante
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Kate Erickson