Entertainment: Musician returns to Kingston with new show in tow | The Kingston Whig-Standard
The last time Matt Mays played Kingston, he found himself onstage facing a stadium packed with 14,000 fans as one of the openers for The Glorious Sons.
Mays — who, like the Sons, has won a Juno award for rock album of the year — knew it would a big show, but not that big.
“That night was insane. It was crazy,” he said over the phone. “We’re pumped to come back and play.”
Mays and his band do just that Thursday night as they headline a show at the Grand Theatre. And he’s bringing a different show this time around.
After he released his last album of original songs, 2017’s Once Upon a Hell of a Time …, he headed back into the studio a year later to “reimagine” those same rock songs but with different tempos and instrumentation.
The acoustic-leaning Twice Upon a Hell of a Time … was released last year.
“I always want to make sure that the song kinda holds up, you know, on ukulele or piano or guitar, and then add a bunch of stuff after,” explained Mays, just a few days after the start of his “Howl at the Night” tour.
“So sometimes I kind of fall in love with the demos, and I want to put them in there, too. I feel like there’s room for both, I guess.”
While those songs may have the same lyrics and melody at their core, sometimes they can sound very different. Take the song Olo Volo, for example — it swaps electric guitar for the ukulele on Twice Upon a Hell of a Time ….
“Some people have been, ‘I like the electric versions,’ and others have been like, ‘I like the acoustic versions,’” said Mays, who won the 2014 Juno award for rock album of the year for Coyote. “It’s nice to hear that from people.”
The quieter versions of the songs, he said, tend to draw the listener’s ear to the lyrics, which sometimes get overlooked.
“The lyrics come off differently when you play them differently,” he offered.
On this current tour, he dabbles in both versions of those songs, and reimagines some of his past catalogue, too. Take the single “Tall Trees,” from 2008’s Terminal Romance. The rock-pop song he recorded with former backing band El Torpedo has been turned into a bluegrass song for this tour, he said.
“I worked really hard on the setlist (choosing) songs I thought would be great solo, or with one other person, or with five other people,” Mays said.
That’s the difference with this tour. While Mays is known to alternate between rock and acoustic tours, this one offers a bit of both. The evening sees him start out as a solo act, and then a musician is added after each song until the entire eight-piece band is together onstage.
“It’s fun for the band,” said Mays, who has been touring for two decades now. “It’s a different show.”
Just because his last two records had the same songs, don’t think Mays has hit a dry spell, songwriting-wise.
“I usually get up in the morning, go to the studio and write songs,” he said. “I’ve got a bunch of tunes, and I want to put a new record next year.”
What: Juno award winner Matt Mays performs his “Howl at the Night” tour. Skye Wallace opens.
When: Thursday, Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Grand Theatre, 218 Princess St.
Cost: $32.50 and $37.50, plus HST and handling fee. Go to kingstongrand.ca to buy tickets online.
For more: www.mattmays.com
This content was originally published here.