After success with both CCM and mainstream audiences, Mat Kearney offers his first live album, exclusively through iTunes. Live at the Fillmore San Francisco is a solid release that showcases the variety of sounds Kearney has experimented with since his Inpop debut in 2004.
Similarly to Mat Kearney's latest full release, City of Black and White, this live offering opens with "All I Have," followed by "Fire & Rain," two standout songs with distinguishing choruses. Next are "Crashing Down," and the intimate "Breathe In Breath Out" from Nothing Left to Lose. Up until this point, Kearney's vocals seem above par, but not particularly unique compared to his recorded tracks. However, the flawless transitions between the melodies and the hip-hop elements in the piano-driven "In The Middle," along with a perfectly balanced musical blend, showcase Kearney's vocal strengths. For the next song, "Lifeline," Kearney's vocals are not quite as astounding, but the stronger rock flavor is a new sound for the concert. After an endurable band introduction, Kearney returns to the token sound of his label debut with "Girl America," featuring powerful rhymes over a simple, acoustic-sounding beat, and "Renaissance," which presents a more epic, intense sound.
The acoustic "Chicago" is a nice song to hear the fan interaction in, but proves to be a slightly awkward transition into the more high energy "Here We Go," which features excellent musical strength near the end of the song. Unfortunately, the various instruments seem to overpower Kearney's vocals on "Runaway Car." However, this is not an issue in the next song, "All I Need," a beautiful ballad penned after Kearney's friend's house in New Orleans was destroyed in hurricane Katrina. Kearny finishes the show with his most successful songs, beginning with "Undeniable" and "Nothing Left To Lose," two songs that are fun to hear performed live. After a touching version of "City of Black & White," the show closes with the hit, "Closer to Love" and a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark."
Live at the Fillmore offers a worthy combination of sounds from Mat Kearney's alternative hip-hop flavored debut to his more contemporary current sound. Some of Kearney's rhymes sound better and more coherent with more production, so it's not the greatest live offering available. Nonetheless, Live at the Fillmore is certainly worth a listen, especially for fans familiar with Kearney's earlier work and his latest release.- Review date: 12/20/10, written by Sam Schaumberg of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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