Nathanson’s High Energy Show Fills House of Blues

Nathanson plays to near-capacity crowd at Dallas HOB.

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Frank Heinz

Singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson brought his high-energy show to a near-capacity crowd at the House of Blues in Dallas on Friday night in support of his most recent album "Some Mad Hope."

Supported by Jessie Baylin and Texas native Jaimee Harris, Nathanson started out the show by entering a dark stage with Queen's Flash Gordon playing throughout the room -- a move that brough chuckles of nostalgia from the few audience members old enough to remember the song.

Not being one to kill the mood, Nathanson kept Queen's tempo and started his show with several upbeat songs off of his new album. 

Nathanson said the album, "Some Mad Hope," is the culmination of three years of hard work and that the songs went through quite an evolutionary process before being released.

"A song like 'Come On Get Higher,' which is the single, went through three different recorded versions of that song trying to get what actually ended up being the most basic version of the song," said Nathanson.

Nathanson said they spent a lot of time trying to polish the songs, ultimately making them into something they weren't and that once they allowed the songs to stand on their own, whether in the studio or on the road, they then started coming into shape.

So how does he craft those upbeat folk-rock anthems and love songs?

During a short conversation before his set, Nathanson discussed his approach to songwriting and recalled a conversation he had earlier in the day while speaking at Dallas' Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts -- likening it to speaking at "Fame."

"I was talking to all these musican kids, it was totally rad ... and what it comes down to is the vomit process and then the refinement process.  For me, the process of, just, getting it out ... and then cherry pick from the little bits that work," Nathanson said.

Throughout the show, Nathanson cherry picked through his new album to highlight songs such as "Car Crash" and "Come On Get Higher," while peppering his setlist with covers of classics like as Ah-Ha's "Take On Me" and Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" - the latter a bit of an homage to the singer/actor who was scheduled to play the House of Blues on Saturday night. 

In between songs, Nathanson's personality and wit kept the audience intently engaged as he quipped and joked about one thing or another and nothing in particular -- without a doubt the nearly 1,000 in attendance were highly entertained.

In all, the show is an electric, high-energy show by a seasoned veteran of the road. Nathanson live is better than recorded -- which is still nothing short of pretty fantastic.

Oh, and Matt, if you're reading this -- not that you have a shortage of fans -- but if that whole music thing doesn't work out for you -- the House of Blues hosts comedians as well.

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