From the Northwest comes 36-year-old Mat Kearney, a singer-songwriter who won the hearts of many at the Best Buy Theater this past Tuesday. Kearney is currently on tour promoting his fifth album, Just Kids, alongside special guests Parachute and Judah & the Lion.
Tuesday night started off with Judah & the Lion first on stage. To be completely honest, I have never heard of this band before the show. And now I am utterly grateful because the folk-hop band had me from the very beginning of their set. Judah & the Lion is everything. Ranging from folk and country to rock and hip-hop, the band can pretty much do everything. Frontman Judah Akers (lead vocals/guitar), Brian MacDonald (mandolin/vocals), and Nate Zuercher (banjo/vocals) are widely talented. With help from an accordion player and keyboardist, their set blew me and the entire room away. The highlight of the band’s set would have to be their rendition of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix).” Blending R&B beats with fast-paced bluegrass, their cover was the best thing I have heard in forever.
Comprised of frontman Will Anderson, Kit French and Johnny Stubblefield, Parachute took to the stage next. The alt pop rock band performed fan favorites such as “She Is Love,” “Kiss Me Slowly,” and “Something to Believe In.” Anderson’s vocals were solid, French made sweet love to his saxophone, and Stubblefield killed it on the drums. The only disappointment was Parachute’s “She Is Love” number. I wish they slowed it down a bit as it sounds way better acoustic. One can hear Anderson’s soulful voice fill with so much emotion when hearing that song. I was looking forward to it, but I wasn’t that disappointed with their set at all. My favorite part was when the frontman pointed out the “poof of confetti,” saying that that was all they can afford. Ah, musicians and their jokes.
It was finally Mat Kearney’s turn to wow the crowd. The lights were so bright, I was distracted and strayed away from their performance – but only for a little bit. The singer-songwriter’s music is beat-driven and makes anyone want to dance. The glaring of LED lights shining luminously behind Kearney and his band only made his set that much exciting. His vocals were as smooth as satin, making everyone’s ears wanting more. Singing a great deal amount of songs from his Just Kids album, Kearney spoke poetic words on stage that inspired many. His set was filled with so much emotion, it made me cry a little as I remembered the good times I had with my mother. And “Nothing Left to Lose,” from his 2006 major label debut (of the same title) was definitely a tear-jerker.
A special number brought members of Judah & the Lion back on stage. The two bands performed the famous and overplayed Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars cover, “Uptown Funk.” Judah & the Lion combined forces with Kearney to play their rendition which was a blend of hip-hop and bluegrass. The party kept going for twenty songs, and not a tired soul left the venue. Mat Kearney gave us a night to remember, a night that was filled with indubitable moments. He took us back nine years with an old favorite and teleported us to the present with songs from his latest album.
The track list for Tuesday night’s show is as follows: “Heartbreak Dreamer,” “Moving On,” “Count on Me,” “Fire & Rain,” “Closer to Love,” “Down,” “One Black Sheep,” “New York to California,” “Nothing Left to Lose,” “Where We Gonna Go From Here,” “Undeniable,” “Uptown Funk,” “Runaway/Where the Streets Have No Name,” “She Got the Honey,” “Heartbeat,” “Sooner or Later,” “Billion,” “Hey Mama.” The encore includes: “Just Kids” and “Ships in the Night.”