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Review: Matt Hires' casual coming-out party at the Orpheum




A mess of brown shaggy hair underneath a straight and narrow Fedora. A plaid shirt and jeans with the bottoms rolled up. Barefoot.

This wasn’t Matt Hires’ first time playing in Tampa — he grew up in Tampa and used to play shows throughout Tampa with his band Brer — but Friday’s gig at the Orpheum was his first headlining show.

The Orpheum was not filled to the brim by any standard. In fact, the show had to be moved from the Ritz Ybor due to low ticket sales. Friday’s show was small, but intimate. Even though he was about to head out on tour with Erin McCarley and Paolo Nutini, the show felt like something of a homecoming. His choosing to start at home before he embarks on the rest of the country only makes his music more endearing.

You Are My Sunshine started off Hires’ set. Next up: Hires’ biggest hit, Honey, Let Me Sing You A Song. Matt wrote the tune for Brer when it was only him and a guitar. The song took off on MySpace, and Hires’ career followed close behind. He now has a full band. And a recording contract with Atlantic Records.

Hires’ backing band was freshly pieced together. "We haven’t even practiced all the songs," Hires said during the set.

Only four songs into the set, a six song acoustic set commenced. It might have been two or three songs too long; Hires benefits greatly from the fullness a band provides to his music. The energy of the audience was visibly higher with addition of bass, snare and rhythm guitar. But couple of tasteful acoustic tunes are always appreciated, one in particular being Bob Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm.

Hires’ voice often reflects that of Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz, perhaps a dash of Conor Oberst. His songs are focused on the trials and tribulations of human relationships. Chord structures are not very complex. His energy is focused on the emotion of the song.

Lyrically, he is apt and capable at capturing particular emotions alongside simple melodies. "The darkness holds little rest for weary bones," sang Hires on Turn the Page.

Hires played a one-song encore, a cover of MGMT’s Time to Pretend.

Next month he begins his countrywide tour with Paulo Nutini. Be sure to look for Hires’ first full length album, Take Us To The Start, which comes out July 28.

-- Arielle Stevenson, tbt*

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