On Friday night, singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson shared his decades-in-the-making theory with a sold-out crowd at Rams Head Live.
“Inside every one of us there is a tiny Whitney Houston. Tonight we exorcise our tiny Whitney Houstons out into the air,” Nathanson said, before leading crowd in a rousing, shortened version of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).”
Nathanson entertained fans for just under two hours, singing 19 songs that ranged from newer tunes (“Heart Starts," “Annie’s Always Waiting”) to old standards (“Detroit Waves," “Pretty the World”). He managed to please both long-time supporters, as well as the new fans he has gained since the success of his last two albums.
During his performance, Nathanson engaged the crowd with funny anecdotes, such as renaming the Rams Head Live balconies the “West Side Story seats” and encouraging fans to “shake it like you’re at Mardi Gras, and your underpants are made of Jell-O”.
While introducing “Room at the End of the World,” he declared, "This song goes out to the Mayans. You did some great [expletive], but that calendar was [expletive] weird!” Before playing “Answering Machine,” Nathanson explained to younger fans that he wrote the song, “so long ago that the technology no longer exists, like floppy disks and Miley Cyrus’ moral compass."
While the set included many upbeat and energetic numbers, Nathanson slowed the performance several times down with the incorporation of softer, more melancholy tunes “Sunday New York Times” and “Bulletproof Weeks," the latter of which, in a round-about-way, he admitted was a difficult song for him to perform. This honest attitude only seemed to engage the crowd more. In fact, “Bulletproof Weeks” resonated with Nathanson’s fans so much that you could hear the words being echoed from the crowd back to the singer, who performed this number solo with his acoustic guitar.
While the show did not include live tigers or a jock strap that shoots fire, Nathanson did share a detailed and embarrassing explanation of the story behind the new song, “Kinks Shirt." The story included flustered lunch orders, an overexcited Twitter fan and a possibly stalker-ish lasting impression.
The most satisfying moments of the show occurred when Nathanson and his band returned for their three-song encore. “I couldn’t just leave without playing the two songs you came here to see. That’d be a dick move,” he said.
Starting the encore with “Birthday Girl,” he told the audience he wrote it for the 3-year-old daughter who changed his life. He then led the audience in a synchronized clapping routine that accompanied “Faster." He finally closed with fan-favorite “C’mon Get Higher."
Before leaving the stage, Nathanson and his band declared that this had been the best show of the tour so far. Judging from the applause that followed, Baltimore fans seemed to agree.