In my opinion, Mat Kearney is one of the best musicians of all time. Therefore, I did not mind the 8 hour drive to Birmingham to go see him on his Just Kids tour. Almost all of Mat’s concerts are at smaller venues and are more intimate, which I admire Mat for. The concert was held at a REALLY COOL venue called Iron City, and it was filled with 20-somethings who also love these three magnificent bands. We had seats for the first 40 mins. of the show, but someone confronted us to say that these seats were reserved, and we stood for the rest of the time. Uhh, whoops. But it was okay – we survived!
Going into the concert, I had only listened to Mat and Parachute, but I realized how much I was missing out on when Judah & The Lion opened the show. They played “Kickin’ Da Leaves” and “Rich Kids” among their 30 minute set. The band is made up of Judah Akers – the band’s frontman, Brian MacDonald – the Madolin player, and Nate Zuercher and his awesome-sauce beard on banjo. J&TL play a lot of folk songs; giving a modern twist is the special thing they’ve incorporated into the folk songs you’ve probably grown up hearing. Their show was energetic and fun — everyone was dancing! Then, they closed it out with “Water” — the whole audience sang along and it sounded great. To be honest, I have been addicted to them since then. Beware, you music listeners, because this is serious ear candy!
There was a delay between setup for Parachute (as there is in every concert), and then they rocked the stage! It was a whole separate ballgame to hear them live, and their love of music could be felt in every body — even the security guards were jamming! I was surprised with how their set went down, but in a really good way. There was a saxophone player with them, and they were more loud live than I thought they would be. But I could not get enough of their excitement, and the joy on the band’s faces as they performed was contagious.
Finally, Mat Kearney came out. He opened the show with “Heartbreak Dreamers”, and the poem from the last half of the song really set the tone for his set and for the whole theme of the tour. He actually performed A TON of old songs, which made me extremely happy. I love everything Mat has ever done, but “City of Black and White” is my favorite album by him. He did like 4 songs off that album, which made me all giddy inside. The fact that he performed a 20 song setlist was more than impressive. How many artists take you back like that during a show, and don’t just blow through the new stuff? Usually that’s a fan’s job, since we create playlists of the way we’d like a show to go – but to have that come to life before my eyes? That. Was. Awesome.
My family and I agree that the best part of the show was a little over halfway into Mat’s set when Judah & The Lion came out to join him for a folk-rendition of “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. It was a banjo-pickin’ good time! I wish they would have recorded in studio (or maybe they will – 😉 ) so I could keep it on repeat. But really – it was SO GOOD. Mat continued his set, taking trips back to his first albums and playing new songs about childhood. As a kid, it was really cool for him to give me advice (okay, maybe not just me) from the stage and tell me to enjoy this time in my life.
When he finished his set, he walked off stage – but not to fret, because he played a great encore! Just Kids and Ships In The Night were a perfect ending. The phones were out and waving through the air, and the crowd stayed until the very end which can be rare. Although I was sad it was over, it was nice to sit down again! Looking forward to seeing Mat again, and if you have any Just Kids Tour Stories, be sure to let me know!