Dan and Matt Wilson at Pantages Theatre, 2/1/13
Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Dan and Matt Wilson
Pantages Theatre, Minneapolis
Friday, February 1, 2013
Some snow covered the streets of Downtown Minneapolis on Friday evening, but that didn't stop fans of Dan and Matt Wilson from filling the seats of the Pantages Theatre. The beautiful theater, the sold-out seats, and the immaculate sound played a lovely backdrop to a night that allowed the brothers to shine. Out of context, Dan described the evening's song choices best with, "[It's] a montage that depicts the passing of our lives."
Forgoing an opener, Dan and Matt walked onstage in everyday attire, jeans and casual jackets, a glimpse of what the evening held. Opening with "Reception," Matt took the guitar while Dan approached the piano. The Trip Shakespeare tune was stripped down, but not missing any of its magic. The two talented brothers blended harmonies while layering their pieces with the piano, their many guitars, and their additions, Andy Thompson and Ken Chastain -- which Matt renamed "Kandy."
Photos by Stacy Schwartz
As promised, the span of songs ranged extensively from both Dan and Matt's catalogs, including the exceptionally moving "Today You Move," a request from an audience member via Facebook. Dan regaled that he found social media requests to be the new snail mail requests, that these requests were things that would eventually be responded to. Post-Dixie Chicks and Pre-Adele, Dan released a solo album that included "Free Life," a tune that questions how someone will spend the life given them -- a song that got some airplay on Cities 97 when it was released. "Secret Smile" commenced with Dan tinkling out a few notes on the piano leading to a bluesy open and had the audience cheering once they picked up on the song. With so many different songs from different stages in their careers, Dan said, "Since we performed, recorded, and wrote the songs on so many different guitars, we feel obliged to change guitars every song. Just think of it as a montage of the passing of our lives -- not just an irritating delay."
With "Kandy" leaving the stage, the brothers were left to perform Dan's biggest hit (for Adele) "Someone Like You," a piece that had Dan taking out the piano and replacing it with an acoustic guitar and accompanied by Matt on close-fitting harmonies.
Followed by an intermission that seemed as long as the first set, the two returned to the stage with Matt making a "costume change" into a blue polo shirt. In reference to the cold temps that Minnesota has been experiencing, Dan mentioned his move out to Los Angeles a few years ago, to which the crowd responded with some boos. Chuckling, he changed his statement to, "I've been a prisoner in Los Angeles for a few years -- heavy burdens and responsibilities -- I've become soft. Yesterday and today have been a terrible shock, so when Matt and I do this again, it won't be in February."
Ever grateful for the performance, the audience often shouted out "Thank you" to the duo onstage. The interactions were welcome until they became an intrusion with the many requests, many times for songs that weren't on the setlist -- songs that were not prepared for the evening. Jokingly someone called out a request for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which had Dan laughing and responding with, "That was the best one, yet."
Dan is well known for being able to craft smart pop songs, but Matt cannot be dismissed in that category. Written when he was still a teenager and playing with his band the Love Monsters, "Kiss Away the Tears" brought out nuances reflective of the Replacements and showed the potential in writing that the young Matt had, although he sheepishly called it "juvenilia." From their early days, they jumped to a piece off Dan's upcoming solo album, Love Without Fear. The elder Wilson is excellent at writing about what he knows, life and love, and the lyrics "All I want in this life of mine is for you to take my hand and walk side by side" and melody channel Crosby, Stills, and Nash. With their mother in the audience, the duo brought out her favorite song "Two Wheeler, Four Wheeler." Dan mentioned that playing it was the least they could do since she gave them life.
Close to the end, "Never You Mind" was brought out. The song had Matt and Dan trading vocals, opening once again with Dan tinkling on the piano and announcing the piece with, "Let's do it now..." The fast-paced piece had Matt using his guitar pedal which he dubbed "Box of Rock" and Dan stumbling on the lyrics, playing into it and laughingly saying, "Wait, wait, let me do that again."
Photo by Stacy Schwartz
The highlight of the evening came in the form of a hybrid acoustic version of "Closing Time." "Kandy" grabbed their phones and recorded the brothers, Dan on piano and Matt on guitar, holding the audience captive with the well-known song that ebbs and flows, building up to something wonderful. Before "Toolmaster," the last song in the regular set, the brothers thanked the audience for being there, with Matt saying he didn't have to do much blathering because they [the audience] did so much of it. An audience member asked where was [John] Munson, to which Dan answered, "Where's Munson? He was on the guest list, so he's here somewhere." Matt shared that John's mustache was there, because John had turned and Matt felt it.
An interesting choice to open their encore was "Could We Start Again, Please," a song from Jesus Christ Superstar that the two listened to a lot as kids. If Matt was sheepish before about "Kiss Away the Tears," then Dan was even more sheepish about "Act Naturally," a poignantly sweet love song that Matt had to urge him to include in the set. Left to the last song, since Trip Shakespeare was such a huge part of their lives, "If You Miss Me" was the perfect choice with its lullaby-like lyrics. Not to be outdone in gratitude, Dan replied to someone's shout of "Thank you" with, "Thank you so much. It goes both ways." It sure does, Dan.
Critic's bias: I'm a big fan of both brothers and was quite impressed with the stripped-down versions of the songs. Plus, who knew they were so funny?
The crowd: An older audience demographic -- some who tapped their feet and bobbed their heads politely and some who were drunk and liked to shout out requests.
Overheard in the crowd: "Dan is so sexy."
Random notebook dump: For those that missed the show, the brothers recorded the performance and will have a download up for grabs.
Random notebook dump 2: John Munson was in the crowd. Sans mustache but with a fur coat.
Random notebook dump 3: I missed writing down the lyrics on the second set, so I wasn't not sure on some of the titles. Some of them were newer songs that weren't introduced with titles.
Today You Move
Someone Like You
Kiss Away the Tears
Love Without Fear
Never You Mind
Could We Start Again, Please?
If You Miss Me
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