Mat Kearney brought his City of Black and White Revisited Tour to the beautiful Fitzgerald Theater on a calm and cool winter night in February. The Oregon native was touring to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of his named album and doing an acoustic tour at hand-picked locations all over the country. He featured opener Eli Teplin who also helped him perform his main set. There was quite the mix of concert goers with a mellow vibe of people you could tell were just excited to see Mat perform live.
Eli Teplin was the opening act for Mat. He performed his first couple of songs on the keyboard while giving some background open himself and thanking Mat for the opportunity to tour with him. This young performer has a diverse and high level of education in the art of music. There was not a setlist readily available so I’m not sure the names of the songs he played, but he had a great sound and was engaging and inviting with the audience and even had them participating in the songs for the last couple. He appeared very comfortable performing on both the keyboard and acoustic guitar despite being one of the first shows he’d done. The crowd seemed into him and engaged in his stories and liked what he had to say.
After a brief intermission and changeover Mat took the stage to a roar of applause and cheers. He said his quick hello’s and rolled right into hit songs Fire & Rain and Kings & Queens. Ever couple of songs he would take a break to regale the crowd with tales of his past, how he got to where he is and anecdotes about life on the road. He joked about purposefully booking his show here for early February every time he comes because he loves the balmy weather the state provides this time of year.
As we entered the meat of his set, he told the story of his first City of Black and White Tour and driving seven or eight thousand miles across the country in a white van with his friend. He spoke of how they learned so much about each other and the places they visited. His friend was also dealing with a bad breakup and how he could tell it was really dragging him down and he wasn’t himself. They came upon a golden flower field in Bend, OR with a beautiful mountain range backdrop with the sun setting behind it on their travels and his friend said “You know Mat, I’ve always wanted to run through a field of flowers like this”, and so they did. This turned into a lead-in to fan favorite “Learning To Love Again” and how he recalled that moment as seeing who his friend really was and how he was learning to appreciate things around him again as he got over the break up.
The acoustic show made the entire performance feel very intimate and inviting. The classic theater setting of the Fitzgerald was one Mat mentioned he hand picked for it’s beauty along with the others on the tour. The brief interludes between songs with little tidbits and factoids on the performer’s journey to stardom made you feel like you were a friend and not just another person that paid to see him perform. Throw in the ever-changing setlist of songs and abrupt endings because “that last song felt too elevator music-y” and you had an evening filled with great music, fun stories and a few laughs to wrap it all up.
Overall the performances of both Eli Teplin and Mat Kearney left nothing to be desired. If you’re on the route of this tour as it goes on, I highly recommend you make the time to go.